The Utrecht Workshop on Welfare Aspects of Transgenic Animals
The main points raised in the discussion will be briefly outlined. Firstly, some delegates asserted that there is no real difference between transgenics and genetical changes achieved through traditional selective breeding. The opponents of this view argued that the changes brought about by transgenics are less predictable, much more rapid and in some cases much more debilitating. The point was made that genes from different species may have been separated for millions of years and that their insertion into the genome could result in a serious upset to the “genetic integrity” of the species. The concept of genetic integrity was debated with some delegates supporting such a notion and others denying its existence. The main arguments against genetic integrity are that, in the course of evolution, genetical differences between species or sub-species are often non-adaptive, having arisen through physical separation of sections of an originally single population and that in some instances hybrids may even be at an advantage. Furthermore transgenesis by means of viral vectors is a naturally occurring phenomenon.
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