I guess I need to create a new category for posts. It will be called Daily Atrocities. Just because something can be done, does not mean that it should be done, but it seems scientists, politicians, and corporations funding these entities, have never heard that old adage. Or if they have heard it, they dismissed it as archaic nonsense.
It strikes me that nearly every form of mammalian genetic modification involves what is scripturally an unclean animal in one way or another. Inserting human genes into goats and cows, eel fish into salmon (I know, that isn’t a mammal), mice into pigs, jelly fish into pigs and cats and dogs and sheep. Sheesh. If this is considered the future of farming, I have to find a different name for what it is I want to do.
I’m not against technology, but this stuff is almost convincing me to become a Luddite.
Scientists in Uruguay Genetically Engineer Sheep to Glow Under UV Light
When you can’t sleep and need to count sheep to drift off, try wrapping your brain one of these eerie glowing lambs from South America. Scientists from the Animal Reproduction Institute of Uruguay (IRAUy) have genetically engineered nine animals to light up under UV light by incorporating a gene from the Aequorea victoria jellyfish. The research is intended to help easily identify genetically modified processes in animals.
IRAUy, connected to the Genetically Modified Animals Unit of the Pasteur Institute, has raised a flock of nine “brilliant lambs” that they have engineered to glow green under ultra-violet light. While most animal engineering is occupied with modifying organisms to produce compounds useful to humans through their milk, such as growth hormone or insulin, the project was intended to solely refine methods of manipulation.
“We did not use a protein of medical interest or to help with a particular medicine because we wanted to fine-tune the technique. We used the green protein because the color is easily identifiable in the sheep’s tissues,” Alejo Menchaca, the head of the research team told the South Atlantic News Agency. “Our focus is generating knowledge, make it public so the scientific community can be informed and help in the long run march to generate tools so humans can live better, but we’re not out in the market to sell technology.”
The project raises a myriad of ethical questions, ranging from whether or not jellyfish genetics belong in a grazing mammal, to what the long-term implications of altering an established genome will affect the well-being of both animals and humans. The team at IRAUy insists that the sheep behave normally and are closely monitored. Yet, despite appearing to function without incident, the full consequences of furthering such research has yet to be seen. The scientists hope to trigger the interest of the pharmaceutical industry, opening up a new avenue of debate as to the safety and moral ramifications of engineering animals to produce substances intended for human health.
By David Biello | September 12, 2011 | 10
First there were glow-in-the-dark fish, then rats, rabbits, insects, even pigs. And, now, researchers have inserted the jellyfish genes that make fluorescent proteins into Felis catus, or the common household cat.
The goal was just to make sure that the researchers could successfully insert novel genes into the cats. Past efforts at cloning and injecting DNA into fertilized cat embryos, among other genetic modification techniques, had failed. But the good doctors at the Mayo Clinic and Yamaguchi University in Japan succeeded by injecting a lentivirus bearing the novel genetics directly into unfertilized cat eggs. (Human immunodeficiency viruses 1 and 2 (HIV-1 and HIV-2), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) are all lentiviruses, named for their slow incubation period.)
The goal is to use genetically modified cats as a better proxy for human diseases. After all, FIV plagues cats in much the same way that HIV plagues people. For that reason, cats can serve as useful animal models for learning more about the human version of the disease. The researchers, or their colleagues, plan to continue manipulating the cat genome to test potential gene therapies for HIV and other potential cures for AIDS.
But it’s also only a matter of time until a night-glowing cat (say goodbye to nightlights and tripping over the cat!) becomes a breed and joins the GloFish at the pet store.