GMO chicken could solve avian flu crisis, saving millions of birds, if only if....

The solution to avian flu, the virus responsible for the devastating eradication of chicken and turkey flocks across much of the nation, is alive and clucking across the pond.

It’s a chicken.

Genetically modified by researchers in the UK, the bird doesn’t pass the virus on to other birds.  Had all the chickens in this country been modified, the flu virus would never have made it past Chicken Zero, the first bird infected.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that 48 million birds have now been affected. And, by “affected,” the agency means “slaughtered.” That’s where the GM chicken comes in.

Laurence Tiley, a virology specialist at the University of Cambridge who helped develop the bird, explains that the scientists modified the chicken in such a way as to fool the virus into not replicating. If a GM bird picks up the flu virus it dies, but doesn’t pass the virus on to other birds. While the GM bird is still in the lab, and not yet in production, Tiley says it wouldn’t take much to get there.

Genetic modification isn’t the only way to control avian flu, of course—vaccines are being tested. But vaccines can be expensive, and the flu vaccine is too new, and its implementation too complex, for anyone to have worked up a reliable estimate.

Tiley doesn’t forsee the GM chicken being introduced into the UK or the U.S. any time soon. “The most likely way these types of animals will be introduces is in countries that have more pragmatic views of GM,” he says: “China, for example.”

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Want a Bird Flu-Free World? Consider Breeding Resistant Birds

  • Eric Bjerregaard

    Sometimes smuggling is a useful idea. Not that I would advocate it. However, I have read of successful black market introductions of papaya and eggplant. My bet is that these will spread quickly once they get out of the U.K. I just might chuckle a bit.

  • Hackety Man

    Is it just me, or are we getting dumber by taking the more expensive, complicated, “high-tech” solution to everything? I mean, I don’t particularly like clipping my fingernails, but I guess all I have to do is wait and someday soon someone will come up with a way to genetically modify me so that my nails don’t grow too long because after all…nail clippers are so stone age.

    • Based on your post it appears we are getting dumber by the day.

    • Boulder7777

      You have made an excellent case in your post for your stone hypothesis. Stone age thinking. I know, high tech and science are hard to understand. Simple has to be better, right? I’m on my way over to your house right now with a rock and a chisel to write with, and am taking away your iPhone and computer. That okay with you? And all the meds in your medicine cabinet. No prob, right? Oh, and your car, too. You don’t need it. Too high tech and complicated. I know; science is hard.

    • Jason

      Would it be better to go around with tiny needles and give a bajillion birds vaccinations? Not only would the anti-vaxers freak out, but those damn birds just won’t stand still!!

    • WeGotta

      It’s not just you. They think it’s so smart and futuristic only if the technology leads to higher profits.
      If they just let the chickens have more space and eat a better diet it would solve this problem and all the other inevitable problems that will surely arise as a result of treating life as a thing to be manipulated for revenue.

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