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Dis/Integrating Animals: Ethical Dimensions of the Genetic Engineering of Animals for Human Consumption

  • Traci WarkentinEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

Research at the intersections of feminism, biology and philosophy provides dynamic starting grounds for this discussion of genetic technologies and animals. With a focus on animal bodies, I examine moral implications of the genetic engineering of “domesticated” animals—primarily pigs and chickens—for the purposes of human consumption. Concepts of natural and artificial, contamination and purity, integrity and fragmentation and mind and body feature in the discussion. In this respect, Margaret Atwood’s novel, Oryx and Crake, serves as a cogent medium for exploring these highly contentious practices and ideas as it provides hypothetical narratives of possibility. Moreover, it is used to highlight contemporary hegemonic assumptions and values in ways that make them visible. Particular attention is paid to issues of growing human organs in pigs for xenotransplantation (resulting, for Atwood, in “pigoons”) and the ultimate end of the intensive factory farming of chickens through the genetic engineering of “mindless” chicken tumours (or, as Atwood calls them, “ChickieNobs”). Integral to these philosophical considerations is the provocative question of the genetic modification of animal bodies as a means to end the suffering of domestic food animals. The ultimate implications of this question include an ongoing sensory and moral deprivation of human experience, potentially resulting in a future mechanomorphosis, the extreme manifestation of an existing mechanomorphism.

Keywords

Animal ethics Genetic engineering Mechanomorphosis Oryx and Crake Speculative/science fiction Transgenic organisms 

Notes

Acknowledgements

I thank Leesa Fawcett for her boundless intellectual, editorial and personal generosity towards revising this chapter and well beyond. I thank Carol Gigliotti for her tireless efforts and good humour in putting together this special issue.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography, Hunter CollegeThe City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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