AMES, Ia. -- Animal biotechnology -- which includes both genetic engineering and mammalian cloning -- has expanded rapidly in recent decades. These technologies already have been applied in biomedical research and now are nearing application within the food system.  Public opinion studies regarding animal biotechnology reveal that people are concerned about the purpose of the applications, the methods of research, and the objects of manipulation.                                                                                                

To address these concerns, CAST is releasing a new Issue Paper, "Ethical Implications of Animal Biotechnology: Considerations for Animal Welfare Decision Making." This is the final part -- Part 9 -- of the CAST series Animal Agriculture's Future through Biotechnology.  The authors discuss three broad categories of ethical issues associated with animal biotechnology, including the impact on the animals themselves, the institutions and procedures that govern the research and applications within the agrifood system, and the relationships between humans and other animals. 

Topics examined in the paper include:

  • General overview of animal biotechnology science
  • Genetics in conventional animal breeding programs
  • Ethical issues overview
  • Religious views on animal biotechnology
  • Public perceptions of animal biotechnology
  • Regulation of animal biotechnology

"Decisions about the future development and use of animal biotechnology may be more effective and widely accepted if parties from various disciplines increase their commitment to frequent and sustained cooperative efforts," according to Task Force Chair Paul B. Thompson and his coauthors of the new CAST Issue Paper.   

"Many people do not have an accurate understanding of the methods and purposes of animal biotechnology," says CAST Executive Vice President John Bonner.  "CAST is pleased to offer scientific information in this new paper that will help people consider the ethical questions associated with agricultural animal biotechnology."

Thompson, of the department of philosophy and department of community, agriculture, recreation, and resource studies, Michigan State University, East Lansing, was to join Bonner at the National Coalition for Food and Agricultural Research "Lunch-n-Learn Seminar" in Washington, D.C., on Monday, June 7, to present the paper. Thompson is also scheduled to be a speaker at the CAST food-animal agriculture symposium, Sustaining Animal Agriculture: Balancing Bioethical, Economic, & Social Issues, on June 9.

Ethical Implications of Animal Biotechnology: Considerations for Animal Welfare Decision Making; Animal Agriculture's Future through Biotechnology, Part 9 (IP46, 16 pp.) is available at the CAST website for free download, in addition to the other eight parts in this series.  All Issue Papers also are available in hard copy from the CAST office (515-292-2125); a shipping/handling fee applies.

SOURCE: CAST.