Does "can" mean "should"?
Two recen articles illustrate a disturbing trend in science: the use of domestic animals for genetic manipulation research and subtly or not-so-subtly marketing their results to the general public in one way or another..
I appreciate that the technology to manipulate genes is now available and relatively simple to use. However just because researchers can do something doesn't necessarily mean that they should. As a biologist and veterinarian I also can appreciate the allure of manipulating genes to see what happens is a convenient and cost-effective way to determine what what genes are associated with what physiological processes. But the key words are "associated with." Although media reports and even academic press releases of such studies often hint or flat out claim that this research will result in a cure for some animal or human disease, in reality what much research reveals is how amazingly complex the interaction between genetics, physiology.and the environment is, and that researchers are going to have to work long and hard before they ever figure it all out. Given all the uncertainties and probabilities involved, it seems like computer simulations would be much better at this.
But troubling as that is, I find the marketing of genetically manipulated animals to the general public as novelties highly offensive as well as incomprehensible. These are living beings whose physiology has been mucked about with who-knows-what long-term health and behavioral consequences. Surely they deserve more than to be exploited like that.