2015-11-26. Open Season Is Seen in Gene Editing of Animals.

posted Dec 2, 2015, 6:48 AM by Alan Gould   [ updated Dec 3, 2015, 4:42 PM ]
By Amy Harmon, The New York Times. For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 4. Excerpt: SIOUX CENTER, Iowa — Other than the few small luxuries afforded them, like private access to a large patch of grass, there was nothing to mark the two hornless dairy calves born last spring at a breeding facility here as early specimens in a new era of humanity’s dominion over nature. But unlike a vast majority of their dairy brethren, these calves, both bulls, will never sprout horns. That means they will not need to undergo dehorning, routinely performed by farmers to prevent injuries and a procedure that the American Veterinary Medical Association says is “considered to be quite painful.” Instead, when the calves were both just a single cell in a petri dish, scientists at a start-up company called Recombinetics used the headline-grabbing new tools of gene editing to swap out the smidgen of genetic code that makes dairy cattle have horns for the one that makes Angus beef cattle have none. ...The uproar over the new ease and precision with which scientists can manipulate the DNA of living things has centered largely on the complicated prospect of editing human embryos. But with the federal government’s approval last week of a fast-growing salmon as the first genetically altered animal Americans can eat, a menagerie of gene-edited animals is already being raised on farms and in laboratories around the world — some designed for food, some to fight disease, some, perhaps, as pets....  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/27/us/2015-11-27-us-animal-gene-editing.html

See also: CRISPR inventor calls for pause in editing heritable genes, by Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley News. Excerpt: A three-day international summit on the ethics of making permanent, hereditary changes in the human genome begins today in Washington, D.C., the fruit of an informal discussion organized in January by Jennifer Doudna, the inventor of the CRISPR-Cas9 technology that makes such changes cheap and easy. ...But while the advent of genetic engineering ushered in a host of new therapeutic drugs and GMO crops, it was a laborious and time-consuming tool. CRISPR-Cas9 is quick and precise, and has already been adopted by thousands of labs around the world. “The pace of scientific research has really increased with the CRISPR-Cas9 technology,” said Doudna, a UC Berkeley professor of molecular and cell biology and of chemistry and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. “It is widely available and relatively simple to employ, and it just lowers the barrier for people to start doing experiments that in the past would have been so difficult to do that there was no reason to discuss regulating them – they were just not very practical.” The speed of change makes a discussion of the ethical and societal issues of editing heritable genes urgent, she said. http://news.berkeley.edu/2015/12/01/crispr-inventor-calls-for-pause-in-editing-heritable-genes/