WINNIPEG (B)--Newly completed research indicates the main pure breeds used for swine selection in Canada (Duroc, Yorkshire, and Landrace) are free from a mutation of the RN, or Napole, gene that affects processing quality and causes significant losses for the pork industry, the Canadian government announced June 5.

The conclusion was reached via a joint study undertaken by the Food Research and Development Centre of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the National Institute for Agricultural Research in France, and the Canadian Centre for Swine Improvement Inc.

The pigs sampled from these three breeds for the study were not carriers of the RN gene, which means it is "very unlikely" the gene is present in the larger population of these breeds, the government said. The Ducoc breed is extensively used in Canada, the government noted.

The RN gene has detrimental effects on the processing quality of pork and can lead to estimated industry losses of C$14 for each hog carrying the gene, the government said. For example, when manufacturers process ham, the RN gene causes more moisture to be lost during cooking, reducing the weight and the value of the finished product.

The study was done on a sample of 305 boars from artificial insemination centers in all areas of Canada. Since the RN gene has been closely associated with the Hampshire breed, blood samples taken from 89 pigs in the few herds still using this breed in Canada were also analyzed for reference. This showed the gene probe used in the study was able to detect the high frequency of the RN gene in the Hampshire breed.

The Canadian Centre for Swine Improvement is a corporation established by the pork industry to coordinate genetic improvement efforts in Canada. The Food Research and Development Centre of Agriculture Canada is the largest federal research center dealing with processed food in Canada.

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