Animal welfare is a concern for farmers and meat consumers alike. Historically farmers have removed the horns of their male cattle in order to protect them from harming themselves, and the humans who handle them. The process of removing the horns is unpleasant so researchers have been looking for more humane alternatives.
Scientists from the University of California, Davis and the University of Mansoura have been investigating an effective and painless alternative for horn removal. In 2016 a small section of DNA was introduced into two bulls using bacteria, this section of DNA does not harm the animal, and encodes for no horns. The researchers have now been able to prove that this hornless mutation has been passed from one of the bulls to its offspring, but no other unintended genetic changes were inherited.
This outcome may alter the way we think about genetically modified animals. If cattle that have been gene edited in this way are able to make it to market it will improve their welfare and make transportation of the cattle both easier and safer.
Source: BBC News
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