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Someone in France accidentally ate a fluorescent lamb with jellyfish DNA

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National research institute says genetically modified lamb was sold to a slaughterhouse last year

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

A lamb that was genetically modified with jellyfish DNA was sold for consumption in France, according to a report today from French newspaper Le Parisien. The lamb, named "Ruby," was part of a "Green Sheep" research program at France's National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), where scientists used it to study the impacts of various implants used in people with heart failure. The lamb was born in 2014 to a mother whose DNA had been modified with a green fluorescent protein (GFP), which gave it a bright color and made its skin transparent.

Citing sources at INRA and France's justice department, Le Parisien reports that the lamb was sold to a slaughterhouse last fall, along with non-genetically modified sheep. It was then sold by the slaughterhouse to an unnamed individual in October 2014, though it's not clear how many people may have eaten it. INRA says the genetically modified lamb poses no health risk to humans, though it has asked French prosecutors to investigate the incident, following an internal investigation that it launched in December.

"Tensions and dysfunction"

In a press release published after Le Parisien's report, INRA said it believes Ruby was transferred from the lab as part of a malicious act carried out by employees whose names have not been released. The agency also says it suspended the person responsible for selling the lamb, adding that its investigation revealed "tensions and dysfunction" among leadership at the site where she was held. An INRA official tells Le Parisien that if charged and convicted, the perpetrators could face a fine of €75,000 and one year in prison.

"The facts are unacceptable and demand the greatest severity," Benoît Malpaux, director of the INRA facility in Jouy-en-Josas, tells the newspaper. "We are a world-renowned institution, we cannot tolerate such conduct."