Improvement in the genetic technology is one of the major sectors that have experienced great revolution in many parts of the world over the years. Various researchers, scholars and biological professionals have come out with different concepts and principles to explain, describe and illustrate the whole concept.
However, it is worthwhile to note that the technology has not yet been understood fully. In principle, the biological basis, and the ethical and social implication of the technology is one area that has not yet been comprehended by many individuals. Factually, these are essential areas that should be taken into account in the recent biological, social and moral philosophy. While there are various biotechnological genetic modifications of organisms, this article will focus on genetically modified animals.
In this case, this article will provide a biological basis behind the scene by describing and demonstrating the technology, the scientific principle behind the technology and the social and ethical implication of the technology. Further, the article will show and elaborate the objective of the scientists, the benefits and risks behind the technology and then focus on the ethical implication and concern of this particular technology. To be fairly profound, I will come out with my view point on the biotechnology and a conclusion after a deep analysis and synthesis of the genetic modification of animal technology.
Safe to support in full, genetically modified animals is an act that is undertaken in the scientific principle referred to as genetic engineering. Therefore, fully understanding of the principle is of great importance to enable clear understanding of animal genetic modification. Genetic engineering is a process that incorporates recombination of rDNA (DNA) technology in introducing a wanted and desired character trait in into the body of an organism. DNA is a chemical located inside a cell nucleus and contains genetic materials that make up a living organism. Biologists make use of the rDNA to manipulate and customize the DNA molecules.
A genetically modified animal is therefore an animal whereby its genetic material has been manipulated using genetic engineering techniques. New DNA inserted in the genome of the host animal is acquired by copying and isolating first the genetic material of the interest by the use of the molecular cloning methods in generating a deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequence. It can also be done through DNA synthesis and then inserting this particular construct into animal to be manipulated referred to as the host animal.
By the use of nuclease, genes are “knocked out” or removed. Gene targeting is also another technique incorporated. However, this involves the use of the homologous recombination in changing an endogenous gene. This can be used in removing a gene, deleting gene and in the introduction of mutation points. Therefore, in this case, the animal that undergoes or generated as a result of genetic engineering is referred to as genetically modified animal.
As stated earlier, the incorporation of genetic engineering in generation of a desired genetically modified animal is done by scientist to meet a certain objective. These include; increase in disease resistance of these animals for their health. Scientist may do this to enhance animal disease (such as mastitis) resistance development. Further, genetic engineering can be as a result of the formation of new source medicines. This is a situation whereby animals are engineered to trigger the production of particular substances such as human antibodies to make drugs that can fight infections for people. Others include transplantation, reduction of environmental impact and production of healthier food for human.
While there are various benefits that accrue as a result of genetic modification of animals, there are also ethical implications that arise due to the practice. Strictly speaking, ethical implications including animal welfare can come out at all stages in the life span generation of an individual genetically modified animal. The following ethical issues have rose during the driven-peer guidelines development process and associated impact analysis and evaluation done by CCAC.
CCAC works to an accepted ethics of animal use in science which incorporates the principle of the generated three Rs that is; Reduction of the numbers of animals, Refinement practices and husbandry to reduce pain and distress and Replacement of animals with non-animal alternatives. This principle was introduced to enhance reduction of pain to animals during the time they are undergoing the experimental procedures. However, there has been underlying evidence that shows some procedures have gone beyond the principle and the welfare of animals during genetic animal modification which touches the ethical issues as follows.
Invasiveness procedures that scientists take during the process are the major issues. In this case, animal undergo various surgical procedures such as vasectomy, surgical transfer of embryo among others. These procedures have never been unique to genetically modified animals though they are a requirement for production. They actually trigger a lot of pain and distress an sometimes leads to death of animals because of the great pain involve. This is beyond the ethical principles mentioned above.
It has also been barely evidenced that a large number of animals are required for animal genetic modification. Factually, many of the embryos do not survive the procedures involved. Actually, even those that survive are only a small proportion of about 1 to 30% of the animals that carry the genetic manipulation of interest (Raktaprachit, 2008). This is a show that a large number of animals are required to produce genetically modified animals that are of scientific value. This contradicts the principle of reduction of animal use.
Animal genetic engineering has been the driving force that brings about the concern of intellectual property. This arises in a situation where the genetically modified animal is patented by an individual artificially and limited to some place due to the limitation of data from the animals. Such limitation to animal sharing and data may create situations whereby there might be unnecessary duplication of the genetically modified animal lines, hence challenging reduction principle. This is one of the evidences shown during the recent workshop on the uses and creation of genetically modified animals.
While the ethical implications are actually arising, risks have also been accrued for this animal modification. Scientists have found out that some animals end up developing some abnormal behaviors beyond even the one expected by the scientists undertaking the procedure. Such behaviors have been found making great negative impact such as reducing the animal life span.
Purportedly, regardless of what the application of genetically modified animals, there are limitations on the methods involved in their disposal once they have been euthanized. The reason for this is actually to make use of the genetically modified carcasses into their natural ecosystem up to the time the long-term effects are better taken.
The question as to whether genetic modification of animals should be practiced or not has been one of the controversial topics that have rose heating arguments in many conferences globally. Some scholars such as Brinster have always felt that such arguments are professionally illegitimate, out of order and wide of the mark in the field of biotechnology. However, it should be noted that as much as how obvious something may be, it makes a lot of sense providing a supportive explanation to enable mutual understanding of the need of the subject in matter.
Strictly speaking from my personal perspective, I have come to realize that the world revolution has been shaped in a manner that everything coming up is defined into two faces; advantage and the disadvantage of the whole matter in question. Factually, in this case, some benefits such as acquiring substances that can be used as disease infection and improving animal resistance from diseases are essential benefits obtained from genetic modification of animal.
They are actually beyond any argument in any philosophical plane. Therefore, I am inclined to state that genetic modification is an important aspect that should be taken into account. However, the procedures undertaken should stick into the ethical principle provided by CCAC (three Rs) in any scientific craft.