What if humans develop a genetically engineered tail?
School and genetic engineering
Genetically modified mammals emerged before the first transgenic plants. As early as 1974 it was reported that it was possible to genetically modify a mouse for the first time. In the 1980s, scientists then researched pigs, which should be resistant to flu, or sheep, which should produce wool without having to be sheared. However, most animals were unsuitable for use in agriculture. For example, scientists developed faster growing pigs for the meat industry in the 1990s. The pigs did indeed grow faster, but suffered from such severe organ and joint damage that they were unsuitable for agriculture.
New genetic engineering processes such as genome editing offer researchers new opportunities. The new technologies are intended to make research easier, faster and cheaper than was possible with the old techniques. In current projects, for example, research is being carried out on “more productive” animals that produce more milk or more meat. For example, the muscle mass in pigs, cattle and sheep should be increased. The idea for this is provided by the cattle breed “White-Blue Belgians”, whose muscles grow so excessively due to a genetic defect that difficult births occur regularly. Around 90 percent of the calves of this breed of cattle have to be delivered by caesarean section. This genetic defect now serves as a model for the genetic manipulation of cattle and pigs. Other research aims to genetically modify animals so that they can be kept more easily. This is to be achieved by making them resistant to viruses or parasites or by no longer growing horns. Animals are also to be created that produce milk with a different composition, for example lactose-free or similar to human breast milk.
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