This is the fourth and final article in my series on genetic engineering on agriculture. Genetic engineering is the latest in a continuum of technologies devoted to improving agriculture. The 25-year-old newcomer, is predated by traditional breeding that started 12,000 years ago and radiation-induced crop changes practiced for the past 90 years.
In this article, I turn my attention to genetically engineered farm animals from the earlier focus on plants. As different as they obviously are, I’d argue that the framework we use to assess the value of genetically engineered animals is the same as for genetically engineered plants. We start with the desire that our aquaculture and agriculture systems produce more and, more nutritious food in ways that do not degrade the planet’s ability to continue to provide future food needs. For animals, I’d add that we should not accept new traits and practices that diminish quality of life for farm animals. Indeed, we should strongly favor those that don’t.
To meet our future food needs, agriculture will probably need to change more in the next 15-20 years than it has in the last 150-200 years. New products and practices that meet our goals of raising more and more nutritious food will be the stars that light our pathway to a sustainable food future.
The article starts:
The state of genetically engineered farm animals is not as advanced as it is for crop plants. In the United States, there are eight genetically engineered plants in commercial production but no transgenic animals. The most notable advances in transgenic animals lie outside agriculture.
It appears in today’s Global Aquaculture Advocate and can continue it here.