In the 80s, man began with genetic manipulation in laboratories trying to "improve" the species or provide them with some new utility, thus disrupting - in a way - the perfect work of "creation". This experimentation not only continues to this day but is becoming more and more potent.
What are transgenic animals?
Transgenic animals are those that have been genetically modified, deliberately adding foreign genes, to modify some characteristic, add some functionality or to block the expression of some gene.
There is a large number of precedents, such as the genetic modification of a mosquito in Brazil to reduce the population of a disease carrier (Aedes Aegipty) and thus prevent the spread of dengue and zica, a method that is still questioned today.
About 20 years ago, the first laboratory "Frankenstein" was created, a giant mouse in which human growth hormone was incorporated into its genome.
About 20 years ago, the first laboratory "Frankenstein" was created, a giant mouse in which human growth hormone was incorporated into its genome. Currently, there are transgenic rats, chickens, rabbits, pigs, cows, sheep, goats, quail and fish, although the ones that we find in greater numbers are rats and mice, which represent 95% of the total.
They were supposedly created to strengthen the animal's immune system and make it resistant or immune to certain diseases and then replicate these characteristics in humans and -in other cases- growth hormones are implanted to make them grow longer and faster.
However, the creation and use of transgenic animals includes several negative aspects and repercussions. Some of them to consider are:
Alteration of the natural order
It could be said in this case that there is a question of an ethical or moral nature. Some animal rights activists state that deliberate DNA manipulation has a negative impact on the physical integrity of the animal.
It is also the subject of debate in the spiritual or religious spheres since this experimentation alters the natural order of the universe. Believers consider that there is a higher authority, either God or nature, that it is the true architect of all life on Earth and that man is meddling in a territory where he has neither the right nor the deep knowledge of the true creation.
Exploitation of animals
Animals that have been deliberately bred with genetic defects can suffer from problems and suffering. Genetic modifications that introduce cancer and other pandemic diseases to the organisms of animals will have residual effects that will affect their health throughout their lives and in some cases even the species dies as a result of the application.
According to researcher Chris Stevenson, the pharmaceutical industry has promoted the exploitation of a large number of animal species. Transgenic chickens have been raised with parathyroid hormone for the treatment of osteoporosis, cattle have been used to produce calves with high levels of antibacterial proteins, and a human clotting factor has been created at the expense of the use of sow milk, among other interventions. .
Imbalance in ecosystems
According to Dr. Eduardo Rodríguez Yunta, the introduction of transgenic animals can cause imbalances in ecosystems if they have certain advantages over wild species. Fish and shellfish produced by genetic engineering can pose additional ecological risks, because aquatic organisms have the ability to survive in the wild, moving easily from a controlled environment to a natural one and could compete with native species by supplanting them and degrading ecosystems due to the high degree of food consumption.
Danger to other animals or plants
The possibility of releasing transgenic animals to wildlife can have a great negative impact on natural species as well as the ecosystem. Animals that carry transgenic defects, pathogens, viruses and bacteria pose a serious threat to other animals and even plants.
Genetically altered animals that interbreed with other species can create hybrids and mutations that can infect the entire gene pool of a species, leading to annihilation and possibly extinction. It would only take a pregnant female to start a runaway breeding reaction and the impact could be very quick.
Transgenic animals for human consumption
Currently, there is no transgenic animal whose consumption is authorized. Despite this, it is being investigated with this objective. Scientists from the North American company AquaBounty Technologies have produced a species of transgenic salmon that grows twice as much as normal salmon and at a higher speed.
This transgenic salmon, called 'AquAdvantage', contains the growth hormone from Chinook salmon. The Canadian government has authorized the production and export of non-fertile eggs of this transgenic fish. Although its production and sale for human consumption are not authorized, it is a closer step towards that purpose.
At the same time, work is being done on the commercial farming of transgenic fish for consumption around the world. To assess the possible risks, scientists from the University of Gothenburg (Sweden) studied transgenic animals on behalf of the European Union.
The central focus was on the consequences that the accidental release of transgenic fish can have on natural populations. The results of the study are alarming: transgenic fish - once released into the environment - may displace native species. It would be a totally logical consequence since the transgenic variety was created to be more resistant than the natural ones.
The genes of other species that transgenic fish have make them tolerate colder temperatures as well. In addition, their faster growth gives them an advantage in the competition for food and habitat. Finally, transgenic fish are immune against certain poisons thanks to the manipulation of their genes. This, in turn, is a problem for the consumer as highly contaminated fish could be traded.
Once again, the hand of man breaking into nature "wanting to help" and obtaining benefits can cause a counterproductive and harmful effect on health and the environment. Genetic manipulation is a double-edged sword that has shown - until now - more risks than advantages.
“Originality consists in the return to the origin. Original is that which returns to simplicity ”. (Antoni Gaudí)