Nowadays farming is a more scientific practice than ever, thanks to great breakthroughs that help producers increase their revenue and production capacity to keep with the always increasing demand of the food market. Transgenic animals are the perfect example of this kind of achievement and also offer a glimpse of what we could expect in the future.
Transgenic animals are inserted with foreign genes or exogenes (also called transgenes) from other animals, so they can change their original characteristics and pass them down to their offspring. Exogenes are artificial DNA creations that come from two or more sources.
Originally used in experiments for medical purposes, transgenic animals are also used now in agriculture and can offer great benefits. On the other hand, many questions that can’t be answered right now remain. These range from the effects of transgenic genes on the long run to a big list of pros and cons about the implications of transgenic animals.
Potentially positive implications of transgenic animals
Beneficial for agriculture
The production and raising of transgenic animals could allow farmers and consumers to enjoy benefits like healthier animals, improved taste and even more nutritious meat. This kind of implementation shouldn’t be so far in the future.
Valuable for clinical research
A main benefit from transgenic animals is in the field of pharmaceuticals, because in order to create new medicines scientists need models (which these kind of animals are ideal for) and a lot of clinical research. With the help of transgenic animals, they are able to conduct the necessary research and studies to come up with the cure for certain diseases.
Organ donation capabilities
Transgenic animals could afford the possibility of creating cells or tissue that can be transplanted to another species for medical purposes. This has great potential since some animals like pigs have organs similar to humans, and in the future they could be used on people while they are waiting for donors.
Potentially negative implications of transgenic animals
Some say the use of transgenic animals is unethical
Opponents to modifying genes of animals (mostly animal advocates) say that doing so its against moral ethics. They affirm that animals have rights and that altering their DNA is a violation of these rights, be it in clinical trial research, agriculture or any other area where they are submitted to gene modification.
They can be unsafe for human consumption
Right now there isn’t enough research or evidence that can guarantee the safety of the products coming from transgenic animals, which concerns certain groups about the long term implications that the use of any kind of development made from genetically modified animals can have on human beings.
They are vulnerable to become victims
The proliferation of transgenic animal applications could endanger the lives of many animals and subject them to endless experimentation and suffering, according to many opponents and other individuals studying the ramifications of such a practice.
We are clearly, again, in front of a very controversial topic. Further research is needed to really get a grasp on the full potential of transgenic animals and its associated risks. At this point we can neither accept or reject such a practice, but what we can’t definitely do is to deny the power of science and the incredible advancements we are seeing in many aspects of human life. Who knows what the future holds?
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