Tenderer meat? More nutritious milk? Genome editing targets improving livestock

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Scientists are developing a new technology called genome editing they believe will revitalize the concept of genetically modified livestock since the process involves genes in animals that are currently in the food supply.

Jennifer Bormann, associate professor of animal breeding and genetics, said using this technology can improve cattle quality without changing the quality of meat or milk consumers get from the animal. “When changing one specific gene, all other genes are unaffected,” Bormann said. “It would be possible to change a gene that affects meat or milk. If, for example, you wanted to make the meat more tender, you might change a gene that has been proven to make meat tender.”

She also said the genome editing technology doesn’t create any food safety concerns because, “we have been doing it for a long time in plants,” and the same product could be created without the use of this technology. “We could do the same thing with traditional breeding by crossing and backcrossing repeatedly to introgress the gene of interest,” Bormann said. “It would just take many generations of crossing and many years.”

Karen Batra, director of food and agriculture communications for the Biotechnology Industry Organization, said genetic engineering is the deliberate modification of the animal’s genome using techniques of modern biotechnology.

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Read full, original article: Genome editing opens possibilities for genetically modified livestock

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