When you think of genetically modified organisms on the farm, you probably immediately think about GMO corn or soy. But animals have been subjected to the same treatment… in fact, a genetically modified salmon is already being sold in Canada and has been approved by the FDA for use in the US. It may hit shelves as soon as 2020.
Why genetically modify animals?
The animals that have been modified tend to be livestock heading for the table. Salmon that grow faster, disease-resistant pigs and chickens, hornless cows, and animals that have more muscle mass than usual– all engineered for easier upkeep and higher yields.
Besides the fact that the genetically modified animals are often unhealthy and have unforeseen problems due to their altered genetic makeup (for example, rabbits with enlarged tongues and pigs with extra vertebrae), there’s another problem with this sort of genetic engineering:
These animals are being designed for factory farms–which are corrupting the food chain, causing serious damage to the environment, and creating an economic nightmare for small, organic, and local farms.
If modifying an animal genetically is morally questionable, then modifying an animal in order to keep it alive in deplorable conditions is even more so.
Cows without horns that can be packed tighter into already unacceptably small spaces, pigs and chickens edited to resist the diseases caused by appallingly unsanitary animal warehouses, and animals that produce twice the muscle or grow at twice the speed in order to make the companies that created them more money are not just unhealthy… they are the result of corporate greed gone unchecked, and a blatant display of the inhumane way that factory farms treat animals in order to turn a profit.
We need to eliminate warehouses packed wall-to-wall with animals living in filthy conditions. We need to stop feeding stock animals things they shouldn’t eat, and allow them to live as nature intended. This produces much higher quality milk, meat, and eggs… and it certainly means happier, healthier animals that don’t need to be pumped full of antibiotics in order to survive until slaughter.
What needs to happen today in order to protect the environment and improve our health is to reduce the practice of factory farming, not feed into it by creating animals that are genetically adapted to fit into the unhealthy and inhumane model of factory farming.