Ever since the first transgenic animal was created in 1980, there has been ongoing public and scientific debate about genetically modified animals; the associated risks and ethical implications. In Europe, and the Netherlands in particular, genetic modification of animals has been met with concern and objections by the general public and politics. Consequently, a restrictive regulation is in place. In the Netherlands genetic modification of animals is only allowed for medical research purposes.
Although research on transgenesis of livestock and other animals outside Europe continued, the development of commercial products has stalled. Consumers appear to be reluctant, not only in Europe but in other parts of the world too. In the past years research lines were abandoned due to the poor market outlook.
The new gene editing tools, like CRISPR/Cas9, open new possibilities to modify the genome of animals with the potential to enhance the productivity of major livestock species, to introduce disease resistance in livestock, to bring back extinct species, to make ecosystem modifications by extermination of exotic invasive species, or to reshape animals as research models for human disease or to produce human organs for transplantation. Along with the many promises, these developments raise questions on governance and societal and ethical concerns. In view of the new possibilities should governments reconsider and adapt the often strict regulation of animal modification and use of experimental animals?
Location: Hilton Rotterdam, Weena 10, 3012 CM Rotterdam, The Netherlands