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Animal Biotechnology: Science-Based Concerns
Furthermore, there is greater concern for the welfare of animals than of plants, in part because animals are considered sentient organisms.
The Task of the Committee
The specific task set before the committee was as follows:
The committee will prepare a brief consensus report to identify risk issues concerning products of animal biotechnology. Goals of the report are to (1) develop a consensus listing of risk issues in the food safety, animal safety, and environmental safety areas for various animal biotechnology product categories. These categories include, but are not limited to, gene therapy, germline modifications, knockout technologies, and cloning, (2) provide criteria for selection of those risk issues considered most important that need to be addressed or managed for the various product categories, and (3) identify and justify risk issues that were considered but not identified as important for certain product categories.
The Scope of the Report
Although future policy decisions regarding the use of animal biotechnology will no doubt take into consideration its potential benefits as well as its potential risks, the committee was not asked to examine the potential benefits. The primary charge to which the committee responded was “…to identify risk issues concerning products of animal biotechnology…” (from NRC charge above). Not all risks identified have the same importance. Because it was difficult to set overall priorities comparing risks among these areas, the committee attempted to prioritize concerns within each main area examined: food safety, the environment, and the welfare of the animals.
In its early deliberations the committee wrestled with the use of the terms “risk” and “concern”. Throughout the report the committee attempts to consistently use both terms. Descriptions of “risk” are often stated and used in terms of the likelihood of harm or loss from a hazard. “Likelihood”, in turn, suggests a probability, which requires that the event already has been shown to occur. The committee notes that a number of the biotechnology techniques, their applications, or products discussed in this report are still under development in research laboratories, and have not entered the environment or the food system. The term “concern”, used in the title and throughout the report, is defined in the dictionary as “an uneasy state of blended interest, uncertainty, and apprehension”. This definition more accurately characterizes many of the