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Why don't they genetically modify livestock to make them bigger to reduce the number of animals being reared and slaughtered?

I’m pretty sure we have done that.

At least, we’ve carried out selective breeding on all kinds of livestock to increase the size (and thus, amount of meat) per animal.

Humans have done this for thousands of years, though we’ve kicked it up a notch in the last century.

Do you think cattle naturally look like this?


Or chickens?

I’m not sure how much is technically genetic modification, since selective breeding doesn’t involve inserting foreign genetic material into the animals.

But I’m pretty sure we have also genetically engineered livestock to grow faster, among other things.

Livestock are modified with the intention of improving economically important traits such as growth-rate, quality of meat, milk composition, disease resistance and survival. Animals have been engineered to grow faster, be healthier, and resist diseases.[1]

Now, I’m not going to open a can of worms by delving into this phrasing. I’m sure it has its drawbacks, especially for the animals.

I also know that there are various restrictions, so don’t ask me which countries do and don’t allow this kind of thing.

But here’s one definite instance — a GM salmon behind a regular one at the same age:

(In 2017), the Canadian authorities allowed a GM salmon designed by US company AquaBounty to be sold to consumers. It is engineered to reach market size in 18 months, half the time of its natural counterpart. However, the fish is not labelled GM in shops.

So, either we are already creating GM livestock, or selective breeding has already created much larger animals. (Sometimes both, it seems.) How much more muscular could a Belgian Blue plausibly get without just collapsing from sheer “gainz”?

I don’t think this has reduced the number of animals being reared and slaughtered, though, because there’s simply more demand for meat than ever before. Now, I’m not claiming to know anything much about GM; I’m just quoting a few facts. I know plenty of people are quick to demonise it without understanding it (it’s improved yields of certain crops which has helped save many lives, for instance) but at the same time, it’s definitely not good for the planet (nor its many wild animals) to sustain this rate of meat production and some of these livestock we’re basically “creating” through artificial selection are getting to be grotesque.

Picture Source Google

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