Genetically Modified Pigs.
(from James Chapman, Daily Mail, Monday 21 May 2001)
Prof. Ian McConnell was speaking ahead of a Royal Society report into Genetically modified animals.
The first GM animals to reach the supermarket shelves will be pigs carrying an inserted cow gene. The gene confers the ability to produce an "antimicobial protein" in the milk of the pig. Piglets suckled from such a mother have a reduced incidence of intestinal infection conferring benefits of growth rates, and better survival rates, and lower veterinary care.
There are concerns about a number of GM animals being produced, but everything would be thoroughly tested before any GM animals reached the supermarkets. Tests are being carried out cover for example new or increased human allergic reactions. Other concerns were about superfast growing salmon and the effect on natural populations should they escape into the wild.
Despite the concerns, the report concludes, that the potential benefits outweigh the risks.
Another concern is that animals that have been modified to model human diseases light act as a reservoir for infection. even though these have been a crucial part of medical research for more than 20 years.
Prof. Patrick Bateson, vice president of the Royal Society said, "We know that animals such as the mouse share many of the 30,000 to 40,000 human genes. The results of the work involving modified test animals has resulted in such benefits as the new methods of production of human blood clotting factors. (genetically modified bio-organism.)
On the issue of playing God. Prof. Bateson said the modifications we are now making are much more precise but similar to those that have been obtained through selective breeding.
The move towards GM animals is partly consumer driven. Companies want to find chickens that are salmonella free, and everybody wants cows that are immune to Foot and Mouth disease.
Though the idea of moving genes between species genomes at first seems "Ghastly", when we realise that we are not much different from each other and share 30% of our genes with banana's it doesn't seem such a problem.
What are the ethics of modifying an animal to be born ill? Even though that illness is so the we can learn to cure it.
Look up the Royal Society and find web site, find path to obtain copies of their reports on