Animal Biotechnologies

A range of methods are being used to create genetically modified and cloned animals for research and livestock purposes, and cross-species chimeras for research or to create organs for medical transplants.

Genetically modified animals are created by altering the genes of animal gametes or early embryos, and using those reproductive cells to impregnate an animal. Cloned animals are typically produced with a procedure known as somatic cell nuclear transfer, which involves transferring the nucleus of a body cell from the animal to be “copied” into an egg cell that has had its own nucleus removed. The resulting embryo-like construct can then be triggered to begin developing, and used to initiate a pregnancy. Chimeras are created by combining genetic material from different species, sometimes including humans, into a single embryo.

Many applications of animal biotechnologies are controversial for environmental, health, animal welfare, and social reasons. For example, only a small percentage of cloning attempts produce live offspring and many animal clones are unhealthy; some leading scientists believe that none are “normal.” Human-animal chimeras raise safety concerns about whether new diseases could be transmitted to humans, legal issues about whether such creatures can be patented and owned, and the troubling possibility that they could display human-like behavioral characteristics.


Biopolitical Times

What might have been the story of the year turned out to be a disappointment. On February 14th, the National Academies delivered a valentine to those who want to commit germline gene editing. Its much anticipated report, Human Genome Editing: Science, Ethics, and Governance concluded that scientists should “proceed with caution.” This was the first time that human germline modification has ever been given a green light by a comparable body – the U.S. National Academies is an influential non-governmental...

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The revolutionary gene editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 is best known for helping scientists edit a strand of DNA more precisely and efficiently than ever before.

Now, researchers have demonstrated another use for the CRISPR complex: changing which genes are expressed without...

Biopolitical Times

The much-touted techno-fix to the problem of invasive species is not ready for use, and not close. In rough outline,...

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In 2013, scientists discovered a new way to precisely edit genes — technology called Crispr that raised all sorts of...

Four small pigs sleep side by side on top of a ground floor covered with hay.

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A strand of DNA is featured. The upper right corner is highlighted.

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