A judicial inquiry has been launched to find out how Rubis, a female lamb belonging to the French national institute for agricultural research (Inra) ended up on dinner plates.
Destined for animal research only, the lamb was sold to an abattoir in November 2014 along with unmodified sheep and then onto an unsuspecting customer, who has not been identified to date.
The sale and consumption of any genetically modified food products for humans is illegal in France.Rubis was the fruit of Inra’s so-called “green sheep” programme launched in 2009 to produce lambs genetically modified to contain a green fluorescent protein originating from a jellyfish.
The proteins make the skin transparent and give off a greenish glow when exposed to certain ultraviolet light. Typically, they are used to monitor the activity of altered genes, and in this case to monitor transplants for heart disease.
The lamb belonged to the Inra’s animal research unit, UECA, which sells its unmodified animals to a local abattoir but has strictly no right to sell GM animals.
An internal investigation into the huge slip-up suggests foul play on the part of an employee acting out of revenge after a dispute with a colleague.