Modern science has given researchers plenty of ways to alter animals, and there are many examples of biotech critters running around. But before you discard such work as more circus than science, consider other innovations: DNA samples of animals that might one day go extinct; chickens that lay eggs containing life-saving drugs, and pigeons that transmit data on air pollution.
Emily Anthes' new book, "Frankenstein's Cat," takes readers into the growing world of bioengineered animals and the ethics surrounding the research.
In an interview with Terry Gross on "Fresh Air," Anthes said such work raises troubling questions about animal welfare:
"Most people, for instance, would say that they're willing to see some mice engineered to get cancer, if it cures human cancer, but they're less willing to see mice suffer if we're just looking for a cure for baldness. It's really something we have to tackle on a case-by-case basis, based on what the potential benefits for humans are versus the cost to the animals themselves."
LEARN MORE ABOUT BIOENGINEERED ANIMALS:
• Read a book excerpt. (NPR)
• Don't be afraid of genetic modification. Anthes argues that "genetically engineered animals could do real good for the world." (New York Times)
• Cyborg roaches, glow-in-the-dark fish, and other biotechnology beasts. These aren't animals of the future we're talking about. Glow-in-the-dark cats and fish really do exist. (Slate)
• Tracking the pack. Anthes discusses the use of tracking devices and how it connects humans to other species. (New York Times)
• Genetically modified cow may hold answer for milk allergy. Through genetic modification, scientists have been able to remove the protein that makes people lactose-intolerant. The new milk might also be more nutritious. (CNN)