[H]orns are dangerous, to both farmers and other cows. And so, for safety, millions of calves are de-horned each year, using a painful procedure that is criticized as inhumane by animal welfare groups.
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[S]cientists at Recombinetics… used a DNA editing technology to deliberately make Holstein embryos with a polled mutation that naturally occurs in other breeds… By examining the DNA of those calves, the scientists could identify the polled mutation, but, otherwise, the DNA editing technology left no trace. Genetically, you wouldn’t be able to tell that these animals are GMOs.
This story raises several important issues that will become unavoidable parts of the debate over GMOs… GMOs clearly can be used to address important ethical and environmental problems in agriculture that are difficult to tackle by other means. As the technology… less expensive, more companies will design GMOs to solve these problems, especially small companies that aspire to achieve some social good. That means choosing whether or not to eat a GMO won’t be as simple as deciding whether to avoid food with foreign genes produced by Big Agriculture. Sometimes, GMOs might be an ethical choice.
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