Controversy over gene-edited cow’s ‘surprise DNA’ could slow efforts to promote animal welfare

Gene Editing streched
Credit: Lori Hays

On the morning of August 7, Alison Van Eenennaam awoke to a tweet from a man she had never met. He had sent her a link to a story written in German, illustrated with a clip-art cow next to an udder-pink biohazard symbol. “Aren’t you involved in the hornless cows criticized here by a German NGO?” the man tweeted at Van Eenenaam from nine time zones away. “Can you give us some details on what @US_FDA found?”

Van Eenennaam could not. But not because she didn’t have the details.

[The cows’] father, Buri, had been created in a lab in Minnesota a few years before, his genome tweaked by the agtech startup Recombinetics to prevent him from growing horns. Horns are considered a menace in the commercial dairy business and typically get burned off, so the startup had set out to use engineering to make a more humane livestock industry.

Related article:  15 surprising GMO and gene-edited crop advances underway in South and Central America

But she couldn’t talk about any of that because she had submitted a paper on it to a journal for peer review. If she discussed it now, her paper could get rejected.

In the age of the internet, scientists have grown increasingly impatient with the plodding pace of traditional publishing and sought to shake it up …. [So]metimes, clashes in publishing culture can spill over into the real world in unexpected ways, shaping public opinion with wide-reaching effects.

Read full, original article: A Cow, a Controversy, and a Dashed Dream of More Humane Farms

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