Gene-edited animals in agriculture
Questions raised at the roundtable included whether there is a need for gene-edited animals, what the ethical and philosophical issues around this technology are, what the alternatives to gene editing are and how to assess risk and monitor outcomes.
The report demonstrates broad agreement across a wide range of stakeholders on a few points, including:
- The food system as a whole needs to change.
- Gene editing might be acceptable in certain circumstances, such as tackling farm animal diseases without increasing antibiotic use.
- Gene editing could further entrench the view of animals as a mere component in intensive farms instead of as sentient beings.
- The degree of uncertainty around gene-editing means that regulation is likely to be necessary.
- Questions were raised around whether the speed of development of new livestock breeds that could be enabled by gene-editing is desirable or not, e.g. it might make monitoring and regulation more difficult.
Europe is the world's second-smallest continent by surface area, covering just over 10 million square kilometres or 6.8% of the global land area, but it is the third-most populous continent after Asia and Africa, with a population of around 740 million people or about 11% of the world's population. Its climate is heavily affected by warm Atlantic currents that temper winters and summers on much of the continent. In the European Union, farmers represent only 4.7% of the working population, yet manage nearly half of its land area.