The Tao of Biotechnology

Monday, November 21, 2005

No Genetically Modified Chickens

In England they are talking about replacing Nature’s chickens with genetically modified ones. Don’t you think that is a little extreme? (China is also proposing the same thing.) I don’t think the chicken is the problem. Why do we have to change it? I'm not a big fan of genetic engineering anyway, especially when they modify stuff we have to eat, so I am against replacing one whole species of animal on this planet with a genetically modified version. We’ve been eating chickens for millennia. Who’s to say that the scientists can get it better than Nature did? Who’s to say we won’t end up with something worse than we have now? Besides, the scientists have a lousy track record. Just read Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences, by Edward Tenner.

I think somebody is trying to make some money here, because whoever modifies the chickens would own the patent on them, worldwide. And I also think there are perfectly adequate measures that we can take to reduce the risk of bird flu now without making Frankenchickens that would take years to develop anyway, without any assurance that they would protect against future unknown strains. Let’s use, really use, the methods we have at hand, instead of possibly creating another huge problem.


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