Don’t Subject Genetically Modified Animals to Abuse and Exploitation

Target: George Eustice, Secretary of UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Goal: Regulate gene editing to mitigate potential negative impact on animal welfare.

A historic moment in the medical community occurred when a man in dire need of a transplant received the heart of a genetically modified pig. While this procedure was lauded as a promising advancement, it also renewed the heated debate about livestock gene editing. Ethicists have even cautioned about going forward with such experiments until a more robust discussion takes place.

Advocates for gene editing say the process could actually be beneficial for animals because it would make them more resistant to disease and harsh conditions like droughts and heat waves. In addition, gene editing has been floated as a potential means of preserving endangered animal species. The process could also be used on plants to increase food supplies.

On the other hand, critics believe gene editing without stringent regulation could worsen animal welfare. The agricultural industry would only embrace this technology to increase the output and hardiness of farm animals. The living conditions of these animals would not improve and could in fact deteriorate because caretakers would have less concerns about the animals falling ill or succumbing to the effects of poor treatment and habitation. Large factory farms could benefit the most, pumping out more “product” at the expense of any welfare standards. Plus, animals like the pig in the transplant case could be bred to serve as living organ harvest farms.

The United Kingdom (UK) is mulling lifting many of the guardrails currently placed on gene editing, but this issue is far too complex for a quick fix. Sign the petition below to urge the UK to exercise restraint to ensure this revolutionary science truly betters, not harms, lives.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Secretary Eustice,

The United Kingdom is reportedly considering signing off on more widespread gene editing. This technology undeniably holds promise in several arenas, including crop-raising and disease prevention. The very real risks should not be ignored, however.

Specifically, this technology cannot come at the expense of the welfare of living beings. Genetically edited livestock, while possibly invulnerable to disease, could have a greater vulnerability to gross exploitation and careless abuse. Just because they can withstand more trauma and deplorable conditions does not mean they can be arbitrarily put in these circumstances unprotected. Nor should their lives amount to nothing more than organ farming.

Ethics exists in science for a reason. The famed novel Frankenstein showed us the consequences of science without a soul. Please take a step back, listen to all input, review all materials, commission all necessary experts, and make the most informed decision before you open a door you cannot close.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Mali Maeder


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