Saturday, 23 March 2013

GMO chickens: Analyzing the risks and benefits

What is a GMO chicken?
A genetically modified chicken is a chicken that has been injected with hormones or reconstruct its DNA to give it a new trait or characteristic.

The Purpose:
There are two purposes to genetically modifying a chicken. One is to stop the spread of H5N1 also known as Avian Influenza. If the bird is diagnosed as positive for H5N1 it is genetically modified to prevent the infected bird from spreading it to other chickens or to humans. The second is to enlarge the chicken so there is more poultry for humans to eat.

Other wise known as "Bird Flu" or Avian Influenza, is a fatal flu found in select birds (mainly poultry) that is transmissible from bird to human. This flu may also prove fatal to humans.

How It Works:
Chickens are injected with hormones, carcinogens, corn pills, arsenic and drugs so they become lager faster. To stop the spread of H5N1, a new gene is inserted to the embryo of the chicken to create a decoy module which asks as a primary control section of the bird flu virus. The body recognises the decoy as a viral genome interfering with the replication cycle, stopping the virus from spreading to other chickens.

Stage Of Development:
Research is still on going, however after undergoing an evaluation process it has been approved by both the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and Health Canada.

Long Term Effects:
Long term effects are not guaranteed. Studies are still being preformed and time will tell of the long term effects. However, some researchers and nutritionists believe that consuming the hormones injected into the chickens cause cancer. As well as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.

  • Genetically modifying the chicken stops the spread of H5N1 to other birds in the farm and humans
  • The chicken is still edible (beneficial for farmers so they are able to still sell the chicken)
  • Chickens are larger, therefore more for humans to consume

  • Humans are consuming the bird with the H5N1 disease as well as the hormone it was injected with
  • Long term side effects are not guaranteed considering this research is fairly new
  • Unknown genetic effects on humans
  • Chickens with injected with the hormone usually suffer from ammonia, bronchitis, weakened immune system and failed organs
Government Approval:
In 2009, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) issued a final guidance for industry on the regulation of GMO animals to help the public get a better understanding of the process and benefits of genetically modified chickens.

Environmental Pros and Cons:

  • less of the H5N1 disease to other birds or humans because with the hormones it is unable to spread
  • Chickens are larger, producing more food for humans
  • Process can be long and costly
  • Many protesters against genetically modifying animals

European environmental organisations are strongly against and have been protesting against genetically modified chickens and animals. As well as many environmental activists fighting to stop the process.

Who Benefits Most:
The farmers that breed, raise and sell the chickens benefit the most from a genetically modified chicken. Farmers are able to protect large scale poultry production from outbreaks of H5N1. Chickens are larger and appear healthier and more appealing to stores who buy and sell these chickens to consumers. Being able to genetically modify a chicken helps the farmer raise more chickens and sell more due to the enlargement in size therefore making more money.