New report considers ethical implications of genome editing

Posted on the 30th September 2016

Today, the 30th September, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics has published its report ‘Genome editing: an ethical review’ which considers the impact of recent advances in gene editing and the ethical questions which these advances raise.

Of particular concern to Animal Aid are the following points, which the report covers:

  • A potential increase in the use of larger animals, such as primates, as they are thought to be better ‘models’ for certain diseases.
    Animal Aid has reported over the years how all animals are poor models for humans – the data derived from animals cannot be reliably translated to humans. All animals, regardless of size or species, are capable of suffering and should not be used in experiments.
  • Potentially increased risks of experimentation, paired with slow communication could lead to ‘unnecessary increases in the number of animals used in research’.
    Animal Aid has always maintained that no animals should be used in research, on both moral and scientific grounds. The number of animals currently used in research, in the UK, is more than four million a year, which is already a staggeringly high level of disease, injury and death inflicted upon innocent animals. Non-animal methods of research are available and should be used.
  • Gene editing may transform xenotransplantation (where organs are transplanted from one species to another e.g. from pigs to humans).
    Animal Aid has always spoken out about this subject – the use of animals as ‘resources’ in which to grow organs to then attempt to transplant them into humans is morally reprehensible and scientifically dubious.
  • Genome editing is also proposed in order to increase yield and disease resistance in farmed animals. It is also suggested that animals can be ‘adapted’ to fit in with human requirements.
    Animal Aid has long campaigned against animal farming and for an animal-free diet. It is not desirable or necessary to use and consume animals. An animal-free diet is more humane, healthy and environmentally friendly.
  • The control of predatory species and ‘pests’ to help ‘native species’.
    Animal Aid has been vociferous in our defence of persecuted wildlife species. We are already in an era where certain wildlife is persecuted by man in an attempt to better other species – one example being the persecution of the grey squirrel.
Read a summary of the report

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