Food
Traditional
Crops
Livestock

Medicine
DNA
Gene Therapy
Pharming

Industry

Environment

 

   
   
   
   
   
 Food- Livestock

livestockBigger, Better, Better for you? Should the age-old practice of cross-breeding be put out to pasture? Explore more about ways genetic engineering can be used to make the most of livestock.

Traditional Biotechnology Uses
Breeding for the best of the best has always been the goal for farmers. The best milk producers, the porkiest pigs, the meatiest cows. Farmers rely on cross-breeding to achieve those goals. Cross-breeding is a way to bring together, and pass along, the most desirable genes and traits. It's a mainstay technique of traditional biotechnology.

Modern Biotechnology Uses
Genetic engineering, a modern form of biotechnology, creates a whole new way to ensure the best genes are "passed" along. Through techniques like cloning and recombinant DNA, the genetic makeup of livestock can be copied or even changed.

Cloning
Cloning livestock is not a common practice yet because it costs so much. But some see it as a way to create elite lines of premium livestock. Dairy farmers could have herds of cattle cloned from the very best milk producers. Sheep producers could clone flocks from the wooliest animals. Hog producers could clone their prime pork.

Currently, most cloning is done by the technique used to produce Dolly, the first cloned sheep. As technologies improve, techniques could change, bringing down costs.

Recombinant DNA
Recombinant DNA is another genetic engineering technique used with livestock. This technique aims to introduce new traits, or to enhance existing ones. Cows could get genes that make their milk more nutritious. Fish could get new genes that make them grow larger faster. Goats have been engineered to produce spider silk in their milk.

Pharming is a growing area of experimentation that shows real promise. Pharming is genetically engineering livestock to produce medical products. There are many success stories already. Sheep, for instance, are used to produce a human blood clotting protein. Hundreds of experiments are underway, looking for ways to utilize this technique.

For more information on Pharming look at the article on medicine in the Uses section.

 


Explore More: Genetic Engineering
Copyright 2004, Iowa Public Television
The Explore More project is supported by funds from the
Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust
and the USDE Star Schools Program.



Meet the Mammal that Made History
Dolly the sheep was the first successfully cloned mammal in history.
More


Silk in the Milk
What is thinner than a strand of hair, yet stronger than than a strand of steel? You might be surprised by the answer. More

IPTV Market to Market Links

Beef Glut Hits U.S. and GMOs Get Nod in EU
Ample supplies against a relatively constant demand have been the biggest factors in a listless market.