Regulations authorizing the production of gene-edited agricultural animals must prioritize animal welfare, according to an independent assessment. Scientists can utilize the technology to modify DNA to add specific characteristics, such as disease resistance. The UK government is examining proposals to enable the commercial production of gene-edited animals in the country. The Nuffield Council for Bioethics has released a report warning that scrapping the present ban on commercial gene-edited animal production could result in more livestock suffering. Peter Mills, the council’s associate director, said the government’s plan to eliminate the current limits is the report’s driving force. “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.” Gene editing is the process of adding new DNA sequences to a living organism’s genome, removing old ones, or altering them. It’s a more precise and targeted form of genetic engineering than previous versions, and the changes are practically undetectable from natural mutations. In prior types of genetic engineering, randomly inserting a gene from a different organism into another was a regular procedure.