Leading UK researchers, vets and farmers have urged ministers to free livestock science of unnecessary legal curbs as the country prepares, post-Brexit, to ease gene-editing rules. Such a move would allow the creation of new breeds of animals resistant to disease, heat and drought, they argue.
The government is expected to propose easing gene-editing restrictions in the near future to enable the creation of new generations of crops. However, the group – which has written to the environment secretary, George Eustice – worries there is less interest in using the technology to create new breeds of pigs, cows and poultry.
“It is every bit as important that we use the enormous power of gene editing to create breeds of animals that are resistant to disease, droughts and heatwaves as it is to fashion new crop varieties,” said Professor Bruce Whitelaw of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute. “This is particularly important as global warming intensifies and we strive to ensure we are protected against future outbreaks of zoonotic diseases.”
The value of gene editing in this latter field is shown by work carried out at Roslin and Imperial College London, where scientists have identified a gene that may confer resistance to influenza. “We can now think about using gene editing to create breeds resistant to avian and swine flu, and so curb outbreaks on farms, while also reducing the risk of triggering future pandemics in humans,” added Whitelaw, one of the letter’s signatories.
Read more: Frankenstein ‘scientists’ urge UK government to allow gene editing of farm animals – straight off the Cult agenda for transforming all earth genetics in humans (see the fake vaccines), animals and the ‘natural world’