One of the topics at the forefront of the biotechnology debate is genetically modified animals. In the 21’st century science has discovered ways in which to genetically modify animals in order to produce a number of benefits for humans. While there remain a number of opponents to the practice of genetically modifying animals, it would seem that the benefits of genetic modification are rather overwhelming.
There are three primary areas in which genetically altered animals have the potential to produce a number of benefits for humans:
The British Society of Animal Science recognizes the benefits of genetically engineered test animals, such as rats, for research in the fields of science and medicine. Genetic modification of these test animals allows researchers to breed the subjects in specific ways in order to observe certain traits or abilities through various combinations of genes. Scientist can produce test subjects that possess traits that are more or less desirable for their research. This kind of modification will aid in scientific and medicinal research as it allows scientists to more easily observe the reactions of an ideal test subject.
2. Human Medicine:
Scientists have developed the ability to introduce various kinds of genes into animals that will benefit humans that consume them. A number of human diseases and deficiencies have the potential to be treated through the introduction of important genes (protein producing genes in cows) into animals for human consumption. Another experimental field of genetic animal modification is that of animal to human transplants. The research into this potential procedure involves genetically modifying animals so as to trick a human body into thinking a transplanted (animal) organ is of human origin. Typically a transplant of an animal organ into a human body would result in the body’s rejecting of the foreign animal organ. These kinds of procedures would allow for the production of genetically modified animals for the purpose of supplying transplant organs for humans. These procedures could save countless lives by reducing the cost of transplants and increasing patient’s access to them.
3. Food Production:
Genetic modification in animals can also increase certain products productivity. Farm animals, for instance, can be genetically modified to resist certain diseases and defects that affect the quality of the product consumed by humans. Similarly, scientists have developed ways to genetically alter animals such as milk cows and poultry in order to make the end products more beneficial to the consumer’s health. Livestock could also potentially be genetically modified to reproduce more quickly, and to pass on more desirable traits to offspring and continue to increase productivity.
Genetic engineering in animals, though mostly in experimental stages, has the potential to benefit human populations in countless ways. Technology has allowed scientists to use their knowledge of genetics to genetically engineer products that are most beneficial to consumers in this day and age. We should all support the continued research into and development of this up and coming field of biotechnology. Let us use the tools at our disposal in order to benefit our world in the maximum possible way.
The British Society of Animal Science