TRANSGENIC ANIMALS

Is this ethical?

Besides the wonderful possibilities that transgenics could bring, there are many of the same arguments against transgenic animals as there are against cloning and stem cell research.
     

 

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Some are concerned that:

  • Genetically superior animals will be made and released into the wild and destroy native populations.
  • Scientists are “playing God” and disrespecting nature.
  • Animals will suffer.
  • People are consciously creating sick animals to benefit ourselves.


Others who support the study of transgenics say:

  • Because humans were created as the most intelligent animals, they have control over other animals.
  • Species evolve, so there is no definitely set, perfect world anyway.
  • The benefits outweigh the costs.

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The facts:

  • The CCAC has specific guidelines on the treatment of transgenic animals that are checked regularly.
  • Before new transgenic animals are made, their creation has to go under ethical review.
    • The review has to take into account the suffering of the parent that goes through experimentation and the offspring with the new, expressed gene.

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Most think research on animals should be allowed to an extent. 

If the animal doesn’t suffer AND humans can benefit, people are okay with it. 

For example, like in the case of creating transgenic animals that simply express a human form instead of the animal’s original form of a gene to make products with therapeutic effects, this is considered humane to the animal and beneficial to society and therefore acceptable.

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The following is a small portion of an interview between Dr. William Gay, who used to work at National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Victoria Harden, director of the historical office at NIH.
 

“Gay: My assessment is that most of the really good basic research has depended on

animal models. This [AIDS] has been a more animal model-dependent disease

than most that we have experienced, because we do not have any human patients

who have survived

With transgenic technology…being applied to some other animals–sheep, cattle,

and mice–we can create types of susceptibility that were not possible before.

We have the SCID mouse, in which we can do screening that we could not do

before. Thus there has been a real evolution of animal models, which may help.

 

Harden: Do you think the public understands the importance of animal models?

 

Gay: No.

 

Harden: What should be done to change that?

 

Gay: Something should be done to change the public's view on the use of animals in all

types of biomedical research. Look at the work [Dr. Thomas] Tom Starzl has

        done on organ transplantation… But all of this research has been extremely

        important for successful organ transplantation, even the

        techniques needed by surgeons in order to do it.”

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