Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Reply to an Argument Against Genetically Modified Animals

From guest blogger, Haley:

For the argument against Genetically Modified Animals, I agree with some aspects but others I strongly disagree with. I don’t believe that selective breeding or artificial insemination (AI) is a bad thing. In fact I believe it has its own advantages. However, I do not agree with genetically modifying any animal in such a way that it takes away from things they do naturally.

For the past 50 years on my family’s farm we have used artificial insemination for numerous reasons. When we switched from dairy to beef this became more of an important aspect in some areas. For “first-calf heifers”, it’s in the name. This will be their freshening or their first time having a calf. If they’re bred by the farm bull, it could cause difficulty for the heifer when she gives birth, especially if the bull is known to “throw” large calves. Difficulties can include loss of the calf or the calf getting stuck which can require human intervention. Human intervention means tying a chain to the calf’s hind legs and pulling. All of this effort can lead to even more problems. This is where AI can help. When we AI these heifers we specifically breed them to a calving-ease bull which means their first calf will be a smaller one that will cause less difficulty. In this case selective breeding can be a good thing.

For genetics selective breeding is also a good choice. In some breeds, there has been campaigns to out breed a gene that can lead to problems with the animal quality. To “out breed” this gene you have to selectively breed to a bull that has passed a screening for the gene. This is an example of selective breeding being a good thing. Another example of good selective breeding would be doing it to maintain a genetic line. Some cows have show potential or high meat quality potential and to maintain this you can’t just breed them to any bull. The AI bulls have gone through numerous screenings to find out their qualities so you can be sure exactly what you’re getting. Also, if you come from a multi-breed farm such as myself, with some of the cows you want to keep purebred offspring and we don’t always get that breed of bull. So instead of buying multiple bulls which can be quite expensive, we AI.

As for the downsides of genetically modified animals, I don’t believe they should be modified in such a way that takes away from the things they do naturally. In our book they mention pigs and chickens being genetically modified to not support a mental state or physiological experience. I get how it could reduced suffering but it’s also unnecessary. I also see it as they may not know they are suffering but they still could be. With the way animals are now we can at least know that they are suffering and can stop to let them relax before moving forward or to help us know what we have to change in our process. If they were genetically modified in this way, we may never know if they are still suffering. I also don’t believe its right to take away a turkey’s brooding habits. This is a natural occurring process and for them to not have it is very unnatural. It may cause problems in CAFOs but why should we stop turkeys from natural behaviors to make our lives easier? It isn’t fair to the animal to take away their normal mannerisms. That takes away from their quality of life. If humans couldn’t form relationships with others, our lives wouldn’t be as fulfilled. All in all, we need to take these details into consideration before we genetically modify animals. 

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