Fear Gene Editing Bill proposals will drive further factory farming
- Compassion in World Farming is greatly concerned that the Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill proposals, which may become law later this year, will open the door to gene editing of farm animals.
- Whilst it appears the Bill’s focus is to speed up production of gene-edited crops – gene-editing proposals must not be extended to farm animals simply to enable them to cope better with the overcrowded and unnatural conditions on intensive factory farms.
- Gene editing for increased disease resistance will be beneficial in some cases. However, many diseases arise from animals being kept in crowded, stressful conditions. Precision technology should not be used to mask the adverse health effects of intensive farming methods, allowing animals to continue to suffer in conditions of poor welfare.
- Gene editing will likely be used to push animals to faster growth and higher yields. This will exacerbate the severe welfare problems that have arisen through selective breeding for increased productivity. For example, selective breeding of broiler chickens for fast growth has led to millions each year suffering from painful leg deformities and heart Genetic selection for high milk yield is the major factor causing poor welfare, in particular health problems, in dairy cows. The breeding sector has been responsible for immense animal suffering over the last 40-50 years and is now being licensed to go even further.
- We acknowledge that precision technologies may sometimes have benefits – such as preventing the development of male chicks to avoid the industry practice that sees millions of them inhumanely killed every year. However, we urge that the legislation should be phrased to exclude its use for applications that will perpetuate factory farming systems that inherently cause suffering.
Peter Stevenson OBE, Chief Policy Advisor at Compassion in World Farming, said:
“We are deeply concerned that the Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill will give a green light to the gene editing of farmed animals to the detriment of their welfare.
“Selective breeding has already pushed farm animals to such fast growth and high yields that many suffer from painful health problems and this new Bill is poised to make such problems much worse and will pave the way for animals to be kept in even more crowded, stressful conditions than at present.
“It is vital that the Government do not allow gene editing to be used to support an antiquated, inhumane farming system – factory farming.”
For further information or to arrange an interview, contact Compassion in World Farming’s Media Team: 01483 521 615 email@example.com
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