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‘Human Controlled Evolution’: Lost in the vast, dark world of gene‑editing of farmed animals

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There is an institutionalized war against all anthropomorphism. Not the anthropomorphism of appreciative recognition of our evolutionary kinship with the other creatures. Rather, it is the anthropomorphism in which genetic engineers intentionally deform, debase, defile – play with – the minds, bodies, and feelings of other animals to reflect researchers’ desires, be they ever so trivial, perverse, biologically obscene, and pitiless.

KAREN DAVIS: Genetics researchers are developing chickens with “consumer characteristics” and factory-farm “resilience”… This is the ultimate, institutionalized, War Against All Anthropomorphism – not the anthropomorphism of appreciative recognition of our evolutionary kinship with the other creatures; rather, it is the anthropomorphism in which genetic engineers intentionally deform, debase, defile – play with – the minds, bodies, and feelings of other animals to reflect researchers’ desires, be they ever so trivial, perverse, biologically obscene, and pitiless. And, of course, to maintain the status quo and keep the money flowing. Here is a sample from a May 8, 2023 article in the agribusiness newsletter Meatingplace titled “Gene-editing advances win a regulatory nod”:

‘Dr. Oatley discusses advanced research into gene-editing in livestock, a technique that alters an animal’s genetic code to focus on desired traits such as muscle characteristics or resilience in specific environments. His team recently received U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigational authorization to create food for humans from gene-edited animals in a process that is akin to traditional selective breeding. Gene-editing could play an important role in meeting the growing global demand for protein over the next few decades’…

The genetics research Dr. Oatley builds on has already produced, in chickens bred for the chicken meat industry, what researchers call the effects of “human controlled evolution.” Veterinarian Andrew A. Olkowski and associates state in “Trends in Developmental Anomalies in Contemporary Broiler Chickens” that chickens with extra legs and wings, missing eyes and beak deformities “can be found in practically every broiler flock,” where “a variety of health problems involving muscular, digestive, cardiovascular, integumentary, skeletal, and immune systems” form a complex of pathologies unlike anything in the natural world of avian evolution. Poultry personnel, they say, provide “solid evidence that anatomical anomalies have become deep-rooted in the phenotype of contemporary broiler chickens.”

Here is a quick look at two of Dr. Oatley’s gene-editing objectives: 1) Altering the chicken’s genetic code to focus on desired traits such as muscle characteristics. 2) Breeding resilience in chickens to specific [pathogenic] environments… The “desired muscle characteristics” means culinary traits, as in the industry boast of “growing chickens to become pieces”… “By selecting for chickens that could tolerate the social stress, we also got chickens that could tolerate environmental stress.” — Purdue University poultry researcher William M. Muir on breeding hens who are “better adapted” to battery cages quoted in “Purdue’s ‘kinder, gentler chicken’ moves into real-world test”…

Meanwhile, global warming has opened up whole new windows of opportunity for heat-stress grants from NIH, USDA and their global counterparts. “Impact of Heat Stress on Chicken Performance . . .” states for example: “The industry is grappling with the effect of climate change which causes heat stress and harms the performance and welfare of the chicken.” Accordingly, “it is necessary to develop newer varieties of chicken, especially heat-tolerant breed lines, in response to climate change and the diverse need of the farmers and consumers.”

Then, it could happen that when these genetically-altered heat-tolerant chickens are involved in the never-ending avian influenza outbreaks, it will be harder to kill them by baking them to death in the sheds, as is now done in the United States by turning the heat up to induce, in the chickens, massive heat stroke. Conceivably, the industry could then resort to setting chickens and turkeys and other farmed birds on fire to control avian influenza in “constrained circumstances.” “Euthanasia” by fire could be justified as “more humane” than Ventilation Shutdown…

One way or another, chickens, turkeys and countless other birds are lost in the vast, dark world we have made for them to live and die in… Pathogen resistant, stress resistant, heat resistant . . . The scenarios are endless… One way or another, chickens, turkeys and countless other birds are lost in the vast, dark world we have made for them to live and die in… Poultry veterinarian Simon Shane epitomizes the rejection of even considering the idea of morally driven human evolution in how we treat animals. He told… a journalist that he is in the business of feeding people and has no interest in “a fruitless discussion on ethics and morality.” SOURCE…

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