Published: August 2, 2022

Category: GMO News, The Non-GMO Blog

Israeli scientists have presented a concept patent to use CRISP/Cas gene editing technology to produce modified chickens disallowing male offspring to hatch. The proposal is being touted as “more humane” because young male chicks from laying hens are currently slaughtered in the egg and chicken meat industries—being unsuitable for either industry.

Dr. Michael Antoniou and Claire Robinson point out the risks embedded in this hypothetical, unproven approach. If the technology doesn’t work perfectly, the founder breeder hens and their egg-laying daughters could produce a toxin at low levels in their bodies, leading to health problems. The male chicks would be deemed toxic, unsuitable for animal feed (a current use for them). The lethality gene could also escape into the environment or into bacteria, possibly harming humans, animals, or wildlife.

The EU Commission has labeled the hens and their eggs as not GMOs, so not requiring safety tests or labels. Many questions around which toxic gene would be used, and whether the transgenic system would be “leaky,” causing potential health problems to the hens and their offspring. Furthermore, there is no proof that the concept could actually work. In granting deregulation, the Commission is misinterpreting the definition of GMOs, the authors feel—genetic material has been altered, so the hens would be transgenic, and also their eggs.

Alternatives exist to kill male chicks already—egg sexing early in incubation and allowing them to be raised for meat.

Source: GM Watch

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Organic & Non-GMO Insights August 2022