Improving the health of dairy cows using gene edited breeding–What are the issues?

| | January 4, 2018

How society regards the use of genetic modification and genome editing can have a significant influence on how these technologies are regulated by authorities and on the pace of technological advancement. In a review published in the Journal of Dairy Science authors from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences discuss potential applications of genetic modification and genome editing of cattle for food production, considering both the breeding program and its ethical aspects.

In their study, three geneticists and one ethicist focused on two potential applications within cattle; namely, genome editing to create dairy cows without horns ("polled" dairy cows) and genetic modification to improve udder health. Both approaches could be seen as beneficial for animal welfare, but in the former case, a genetic variant already present within the species is introduced, whereas in the latter case, a gene not found in cattle is inserted into the bovine genome.

Potential drawbacks include unexpected abnormalities in embryos or calves that arise from the use of advanced reproduction techniques in the gene editing and genetic modification procedures. Ethical questions also exist regarding the "naturalness" of either method, maintenance of the bovine genome, and respect for the cow's life and well-being. Addressing these issues will help shape public perceptions and advance the science of genetic modification and genome editing.

Read full, original post: Genetic modification and genome editing rely on active roles for researchers and industry

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