CAST Addresses Animal Ethics Issue in Biotechnology

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.

The Council for Animal Science and Technology (CAST) addresses these concerns in a new Issue Paper, Ethical Implications of Animal Biotechnology: Considerations for animal Welfare Decision Making. The CAST has been working on this Animal Agriculture’s Future through Biotechnology series for several months and this is last and concluding part (part 9) for the series. The authors discuss three broad categories of ethical issues: one, impact on the animals themselves, two, the institutions and procedures that govern the research and applications within the agrifood system, and three, the relationships between humans and other animals.

“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.”

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 8 parts in this series.

CAST is an international consortium of scientific and professional societies.  It assembles, interprets, and communicates credible science-based information regionally, nationally, and internationally to legislators, regulators, policymakers, the media, the private sector, and the public.


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