What is a transgenic animal? There are a wide variety of definitions that are used for animals that have been deliberately modified at the genome level. This means the genetic makeup of the animal has been given some inherited characteristics in an artificial manner. Most of the animals that have been created in a transgenic fashion are currently mice, but cattle, sheep, pigs, and rabbits have all been created with transgenic capabilities.
There are certainly some benefits to having transgenic animals in the world today. There are also some potential consequences that come with the creation of these animals. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of what transgenic animals bring to today’s society.
The Pros of Transgenic Animals
1. They can provide medical benefits to humanity.
Some transgenic animals have been created so that they can have specific traits. Some transgenic cattle, for example, were created so that their milk would contain human proteins. It is believed that the inclusion of these proteins with the cow’s milk could help those who have emphysema.
2. They have research value.
It is almost impossible to study certain disease models in humans because of the way a disease develops. Cancer is one of the most difficult of all diseases to study. With the creation of transgenic animals that can be used as disease models, medical breakthroughs may occur as specific genes and their development can be studied without it affecting the health of humans.
3. They create more profitability.
Transgenic animals can be engineered to do a number of different things for economic purposes. Cows can be made to produce more milk. Pigs could be engineered to put on more muscle mass so that more food can be produced. Animals can even be engineered to mature more quickly so that they can become more profitable for the modern farmer.
The Cons of Transgenic Animals
1. There is no guarantee of safety.
Just because an animal has been engineered to produce human organs doesn’t mean that the medical treatments will be successful. Any time there is genetic manipulation that occurs, there is a chance for mutations to occur as well. These mutations could ultimately be harmful to the humans being treated.
2. There are extreme ethical concerns.
Transgenic animals are essentially being produced so that they benefit humanity in some way. There is little thought given to the comfort or quality of care that the animal is provided. By creating animals that are specifically engineered for experimentation or economic profit, what we are actually doing is exploiting the animal instead of furthering science.
3. There could be new diseases created unintentionally.
Bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics with consistent exposure. Viruses can mutate based on the needs that they find within a host. If we are creating transgenic animals, then we are creating new species that could develop diseases that we are incapable of fighting right now.
The pros and cons of transgenic animals must be weighed by every person. There are some definite advantages to having these animals created. The only problem is that the issues our society faces with transgenic animals might outweigh those advantages.