Ethical Issues in the Application of Biotechnology to Animals in Agriculture

Robert Streiffer and John Basl

in The Oxford Handbook of Animal Ethics

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780195371963
Published online May 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Ethical Issues in the Application of Biotechnology to Animals in Agriculture

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This article discusses moral problems about the use of modern biotechnology in agriculture that emerged in the early 1990s over recombinant bovine growth hormone, a chemical produced using genetically engineered microorganisms and then injected into dairy cows to increase milk yield. Then, there came genetically engineered soybeans, corn, canola, and cotton, and recently genetically engineered animals and cloned animals intended as food or breeding stock in agriculture. The discussion provides a moral framework for evaluating these new applications of modern biotechnology as they affect the food supply. It notes that all of the livestock are sentient beings with determinable welfare levels, which assures them of some degree of moral status. It points out that the moral importance of animals takes on a massive significance in light of the number of animals in the livestock sector. The livestock sector also is one of the most significant contributors to global environmental problems.

Keywords: modern biotechnology; genetic engineering; food supply; livestock; environmental problems

Article.  13527 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science

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