According to an independent evaluation, regulations allowing the production of gene-edited agricultural animals must prioritize animal welfare. Scientists can use the technology to change DNA to introduce specific qualities, such as disease resistance. The government of the United Kingdom is considering suggestions to allow the commercial production of gene-edited animals in England. The Nuffield Council for Bioethics has issued a report warning that lifting the current ban on the commercial production of gene-edited animals could result in more livestock suffering. The report’s driving force, the council’s assistant director, Peter Mills, says the government’s plan to repeal the current limits. “effectively takes the brakes off the capacity for breeders to advance their breeding programmes”.

Mills added: “Farming is a business, and it is a requirement of breeders of farm animals to tread a line between what they can get out of it and (animal welfare). What we are calling for is for that line to be drawn more clearly.” Inserting new DNA sequences, removing existing ones, or changing them in a living organism’s genome is known as gene editing. It is a more exact and targeted sort of genetic engineering than prior forms, and the modifications are nearly indistinguishable from spontaneous mutations. The insertion of a gene from a separate organism at random into another living entity was a common practice in previous types of genetic engineering.