Is It Ethical To Engineer Delicious Cows That Feel No Pain?

Most people don’t think too much about bovine hurt when they chow down on a Big Mac or Whopper. But for those with moral pangs, scientists say genetic engineering might provide a solution, by creating pain-free animals that can satiate the human appetite without suffering.

A paper published this month in the journal Neuroethics argues for minimizing animal suffering by creating beasts that lack the ability to sense pain.

popsci.com/scitech/article/2009-09/ethical-debate-pain-free-beef

Ethical?

Definately open to discussion.

Disgusting and something I would never consider putting in my body?

Absolutely.

Why limit it to cows?

But if they don’t feel pain, they would injure themselves. That’s why we feel pain, its our body’s way of telling us to avoid doing harmful things.

Besides, animals don’t suffer much when they are slaughtered, if its done right. It really doesn’t make much sense. The real suffering that farm animals endure is on modern factory farms where they are cooped up in unnatural conditions, unable to walk around and go outside (for example, milk cows that spend their whole lives in a tiny stall, with their face stuck in a feeding trough and attached to a milking machine.

Food is food. If you don’t like, I’d suggest you go live in Zimbabwe and starve. I’m sure you’ll get used to the way food is raised in the modern world really fast.

Or you could stay right where you are at and buy grass fed beef and milk from cows that get daily pasture time for as little as 150% the cost of industrial mega farm products, and get no genetic mods, no hormones and no antibiotics thrown in as a bonus…

What are you, an ADM sales rep?

We are already on a dangerous path with food production in the USA. Every year we have less and less genetic variation in our food supply. If we turn out to be NOT the superhuman biology geniuses we think we are, one nasty pest or crop disease could easily devastate our food supply. It’s great to select for maximum yield until that one fateful year when a common pest wipes out everybody at once. Hasn’t happened yet, but the risk is inherent in the approach.

i really dont see anything wrong with it, If it can bring down the price off beef, poorer families will be able to buy fresh food, Instead of processed garbage,
not everyone can afford to buy organic farm reared beef,

Why engineer the whole cow? I keep on hearing of how human bone tissue and cardiac tissue are grown in labs. Why not bovine muscle tissue?

The only drawback is that it would be super 100% lean, therefore it would taste terrible. If you want a tasty steak, you would need to grow bovine fat cells in the lab as well.

:confused:I don’t think anyone suggested the benefit was limited to the moment of slaughter. The point seems to be to not inflict pain on the animals in exactly the situations you’re describing.

I think this kind of response only serves to divide Catholics. Why the need to insult someone who points out that we could do more to treat farm animals humanely? Is it a sin to be kind to an animal?

Have to admit, I didn’t read the article, just the quote in this thread :slight_smile:

Some of relatives starved to death in the post-war era. It’s people like you that take food for granted that make me angry with the whole “holier than though” attitudes when it comes to food.

I’m guessing 99.9% of you on this forum hasn’t experienced himself/herself or known close relatives that have experienced real hunger.

I’m guessing 99.9% of you on this forum hasn’t experienced himself/herself or known close relatives that have experienced real hunger.

It’s a myth that cheap food will feed the world.

Something like one fifth of the world makes less than a dollar a day. A bag of corn chips might cost a dollar. You can’t feed your family with a bag of corn chips.

All cheap food does is make it more difficult for poor families to sustain themselves when food becomes a monopoly controlled by the rich.

Nobody will ever starve to death due to regulating factory farming. If anything, it would just require a bit more labor per unit of meat. Starving people shouldn’t be farming meat anyway, its very innefficient.

Protein deficiency is a very real problem in some regions of the world. And yes, you need meat to survive. Bread and Milk will do for awhile, but you will need protein sometime.

Protein, yes; meat, not necessarily.

Yes, you need protein. Let’s assume you need meat to survive for the sake of argument:

Still, a society with people starving doesn’t have to use inhumane farming methods. If there are enough people starving, get the unemployed people to come help with the slaughter instead of having it done on an assembly line.

For example, imagine a modern slaughterhouse with an assembly line. The live pig it taken along a conveyor belt, electrocuted to death, hooked, dipped in boiling water to loosen his skin, then his skin is removed by a machine. But this process doesn’t work perfectly, and 1/1000 of the pigs doesn’t actually die from the electrocution, and ends up being boiled then skinned alive.

What I’m saying is that this level of mechanism doesn’t occur in starving societies. We don’t need a conveyor belt system to feed the starving. It would be enough to give the starving some live pigs, and let them butcher it themselves. Any mentally healthy human being will kill the pigs so as to keep its pain to a reasonable minimum. No healthy human would intentionally submerge a live pig in boiling water. But, a machine could do that, and a corporate executive who never has to see the process happen might very well refuse to fix the problem for the 0.1% of pigs, since it will hurt hte bottom line.

I don’t know about this. I have seen the process in a pork-processing plant, and I can’t imagine this happening. Yes, the hogs are electrocuted. They are unconscious but not dead. Then a worker stabs what I believe is the carotid artery and they bleed out in seconds. It’s a pretty dramatic bleed-out and I can’t imagine how a worker could fail to know whether it happened or didn’t.

They then go through a machine that singes the hair off. Then they go to workers who hang them on shackles. Then they get beheaded and gutted mechanically. Then they go to stations where workers cut the carcasses in two with what are essentially electric chain saws. The skin is still on at that point. Then they go to further processing, some of which is mechanical and some of which isn’t. They don’t boil the hogs whole or skin them until well down the line when the hog is indisputably dead. Some parts (hams and shoulders, for instance) don’t get skinned at all.

Poultry plants are more mechanical than that, but there are still people at the crucial stages. I have never been in a beef plant, so I can’t speak to that.

Back to the topic. I raise cattle, all on grass. Clean water. Nice pastures. I would never, ever, ever want one on the place that couldn’t feel pain. Would they just stand in the water in freezing temperatures, perhaps? Would they walk right through a barbed wire fence? Would they feel no hunger and starve? Would they not know to drink? Would they know to get away from a more aggressive animal? Would they even resist an attack by coyotes or feral dogs? Would they attempt to ram through a pipe fence and break their necks?

They feel pain differently than I do. I know that. I can tell that. They are more sensitive than I am in some ways, and virtually insensitive in others. They’re not like us. One can never really know how happy or unhappy they are with their circumstances. A cow in lush clover acts no differently than one that’s in the corral. One assumes that when their needs are met and there are no unusually painful circumstances, that they’re as good as things ever get for them. Even then, it’s hard to know. Sometimes very small calves will appear uncomfortable in the worst winter cold. But then, if they get a drink of milk, they no longer seem so. Bigger calves and grown cattle never do. Are they cold? Their feet are bare in the snow, but they do not show any sign of it being painful. Are they uncomfortable when it’s 100 degrees plus? Sometimes some will go stand in the water for awhile. Others don’t. Unless they are afflicted in some way, (e.g. fescue toxicity) they generally don’t for very long, when I certainly would. When I vaccinate, some will jump straight up in the air from a stick that a little kid gets and bears. Some don’t seem to know it’s happening.

They’re just not like us. It seems to me this whole idea of genetically engineering animals that don’t feel pain is just madness built on human sentimentalism, rather than a sensible means of avoiding unnecessary pain to food animals.

My grandpa bought a brahma bull years ago, when I was little. And being from the south, told some tall tales. For one, he said that there was a zipper on the hump, and everytime he needed some hamburger, he’d unzip that hump and pull out a package of hamburger.

I guess if they could make cattle feel no pain, his story wouldn’t be so tall. Ruins a lot of jokes like the story about the pig that was some pig… :smiley:

My assumption was that the idea is targeted not at pasture-fed cattle like you are familiar with, but at more industrial livestock operations where the environment is more controlled. Whether it’s a good idea or not, I can’t say, but it stands to reason that if the animal is stuck in a position where it can’t do anything about whatever is causing it pain, it might just as well not have the stress caused by the pain while it waits for the human (or computer) to discover the problem.

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