Friday, October 21, 2016

Gene Editing - Developing A Hornless Cow

Gene editing potentially offers a fast track to some significant breakthroughs in genetics.

A recent case is relevant with hornless cows developed through some simple gene editing.

The story goes like this.........

Dairy cows, which come from the Holstein breed, naturally grow horns. On farms, the horns are often physically removed because they can pose a threat to other cows, a well as to farm workers handling the cattle. 
typical Friesian heifer - note horns

But a group of researchers from the University of California, Davis has developed a method to remove the horns through gene-editing. 

The team inserted a gene from the naturally hornless Angus breed to create hornless Holsteins [ often called Friesian cows in Australia]. 

Have the researchers developed a new type of cow, or are they just speeding up the breeding process? 

Animal geneticist Alison Van Eenennaam, who led the research, and Jennifer Kuzma from the Genetic Engineering and Society Center talk about the future of biotechnology in agriculture, what defines a “genetically modified organism,” and how these technologies might be regulated.

Many regulatory authorities do not categorise gene editing as GM technology, as it is dealing with genes within the same species most commonly. certainly offers a neat way to develop hornless cattle in breeds where horns are more common, as it is well known that horned cattle are prone to more damage and certainly have a reputation with causing injury to stock handlers, and themselves.

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