Ethical, Social, Environmental and Economic Issues in Animal Agriculture

  • P.C. Kesavan
  • M.S. Swaminathan
Conference paper

Abstract

Livestock are vital to subsistence farming and sustainable livelihood in most developing countries. Of India’s population of one billion people, more than 70 percent live in the rural areas. India also has more than 30 percent of the world’s bovine population. This has resulted in not only egalitarian ownership of cattle, but also in an almost inseparable cultural and symbiotic relationship between rural families and their farm animals, particularly large ruminants. It is against this scenario that the ethical, social and environmental issues of gene-based technologies need to be carefully evaluated.

The use of transgenic cows with modified milk composition or for any other purpose has little economic benefit in a system of “production by masses”, as typifies India and a few other developing countries, compared with “mass production” systems in developed countries. Rather, the use of rDNA technology for developing drought-resistant fodder and forage crops is likely to bring immediate relief to most regions. Cattle, particularly in India, have poor quality feeds and this results in poor nutrition, with production of large amounts of methane. Immunocastration through biotechnological means would also be advantageous. Developing countries like India need sustainable livelihood security, and, in this regard, gene-based technologies in animal agriculture seem more to raise ethical, social and environmental concerns, rather than being likely to transform “subsistence farming” into vibrant agribusiness. Ethical issues concerning animal welfare, rights and integrity are also discussed, in addition to social, environmental and economic issues.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. AEBC [Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission]. 2002. Animals and Biotechnology. A Report by the AEBC. 88p. See: http://www.aebc.gov.uk/aebc/pdf/animals_and_biotechnology_report.pdfGoogle Scholar
  2. Anonymous. 2001. Report — Cowdung spray has been shown to control bacterial leaf blight disease by the Tamil Nadu Rice Research Institute, Aduthurai. Pesticide Post, 9: 3.Google Scholar
  3. Bach, F.H. & Ivinson, A.J. 2002. A shrewd and ethical approach to xenotransplantation. Trends in Biotechnology, 20(3): 129–131.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Boer, I.J.M., Brom, F.W.A. & Vorstenbosch, J.M.G. 1995. An ethical evaluation of animal biotechnology: the case of using clones in dairy cattle breeding. Animal Science, 61: 453–463.Google Scholar
  5. Bramstedt, K.A. 1999. Ethics and the clinical utility of animal organs. Biotopic Tibtech, 17: 428–429.Google Scholar
  6. Brom, F.W.A. & Schroten, E. 1993. Ethical questions around animal biotechnology: the Dutch approach. Livestock Production Science, 36(1): 99–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Broom, D.M. 1998. The effects of biotechnology on animal welfare. pp. 69–82, in: A. Holland and A. Johnson (eds). Animal Biotechnology and Ethics. London: Chapman and Hall.Google Scholar
  8. Christiansen, S.B. & Sandoe, P. 2000. Bioethics: limits to the interference with life. Animal Reproduction Science, 60-61: 15–29.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Cunningham, E.P. 1999a. Recent developments in biotechnology as they relate to animal genetic resources for food and agriculture. [FAO] Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, Background Study Paper, No. 10.Google Scholar
  10. Cunningham, E.P. 1999b. The application of biotechnologies to enhance animal production in different farming systems. Livestock Production Science, 58: 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Faber, D.C., Molina, J.A., Ohlrichs, C.L., Van der Zwaag, D.F. & Ferre, L.B. 2003. Commercialization of animal biotechnology. Theriogenology, 59: 125–138.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. FAO/IAEA [Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations/International Atomic Energy Agency Joint Division]. 2001. Consultants meeting to discuss and make recommendations on significance, suitability and potential applications of gene-based technologies for improving livestock production in developing countries (Report on FAO/IAEA Consultants Meeting, 27 to 30 November 2001.) (FAO/IAEA) Animal Production and Health Newsletter, No. 35: 16–18.Google Scholar
  13. Hew, C.L., Fletcher, G.L. & Davies, P.L. 1995. Transgenic salmon: tailoring the genome for food production. Journal of Fish Biology, 47(A): 1–19.Google Scholar
  14. Jarvis, L.S. 1996. The Potential Effect of Two New Biotechnologies on the World Dairy Industry. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  15. Juskevich, J.C. & Guyer, C.G. 1990. Bovine growth hormone: human food safety evaluation. Science, 249: 875–884.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Mepham, T.B. 1993. Approaches to ethical evaluation of animal biotechnologies. Animal Production, 57: 353–359.Google Scholar
  17. Mitra, A.P., Dileep Kumar, M., Rupa Kumar, K., Abrol, Y.P., Kalra Naveen, Velayuthan, M. & Naqvi, S.W.A. 2002. Global-Regional Linkages in the Earth System. (The IGBP Global Change Series, (Series eds: P. Tyson et al.)). Berlin: Springer. 198p.Google Scholar
  18. Natarajan, C. & Rasool, T.J. 1997. Gene technology in animals: A boon for livestock production. pp. 10–20, in: R. Verma. S.N. Singh and K.R. Shingal (eds). Biotechnology in Animal Health and Production. Pune, India: Pune University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Nelson, N., Valdes, C., Hillman, K., McEwan, N.R., Wallace, R.J. & Newbold, C.J. 2000. Effect of methane-oxidising bacterium isolated from the gut of piglets on methane production in Rusitec. Reproduction Nutrition Development, 40: 212 [Abstract].Google Scholar
  20. NHMRC [National Health and Medical Research Council]. 2002. Part 1 — Ethical and Scientific Principles. pp. 9–45, in: Draft guidelines and discussion paper on xenotransplantation. Xenotransplantation Working Party. Public consultation 2002. See: http://www.health.gov.au/nhmrc/issues/xeno.pdfGoogle Scholar
  21. Pell, J.M. & Aston, R. 1995. Principles of immunomodulation. Livestock Production Science, 42: 122–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Pursel, V.G. & Rexroad, C.E. 1993. Status of research with transgenic farm animals. Journal of Animal Science, 71(3): 10–19.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Rollin, B.E. 1997. Send in the clone... don’t bother, they are here. Journal of Agricultural Ethics, 10: 25–40.Google Scholar
  24. Sachidananda Murthy. 2002. Quite a lot of hot air. The Week, 3 November 2002: 1–3.Google Scholar
  25. Straughan, R. 2000. Ethics, Morality and Animal Biotechnology. Report published by The Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC), UK. See: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/tools/download/ethics_animal_biotech/ethics_animal_biotech.pdfGoogle Scholar
  26. Swaminathan, M.S. 2000. Science is response to basic human needs. Keynote address. pp. 33–40, in: A.M. Cetto (ed). World Conference on Science — Science for the 21st Century: A new Commitment. Budapest, 1999. Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar
  27. Tabe, L.M., Wardley-Richardson, T., Ceriotti, A., McNabb, W., Moore, A. & Higgins, T.J.V. 1995. A biotechnological approach to improving the nutritive value of Alfalfa. Journal of Animal Science, 73: 2752–2759.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© IAEA 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • P.C. Kesavan
    • 1
  • M.S. Swaminathan
    • 1
  1. 1.M.S. Swaminathan Research FoundationChennaiIndia

Personalised recommendations