Transgenic Animals; Biosafety issues, Biopiracy and Patents

Looking at transgenic animals, these are animals that have had their DNA manipulated to express an additional gene. Although more than ninety percent of transgenic animals are mice; also there exist transgenic rats, sheep, rabbits, pigs, cow, etc. There need for generating these animals as a result of their benefits. Transgenic animals allow the study of how genes affect the normal functions of the body and its development. Moreover, they also allow in understanding how genes are regulated in the body.

Transgenic animals also stand as a model for human diseases and increase understanding of how genes contribute to disease development. They also make it easier to investigate new care methods for diseases. Presently, transgenic models exist for many human diseases like Alzheimer’s, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, cystic fibrosis, etc. Introducing genes from other species will alter the formation of a particular factor and by studying its biological effects, it will easier to gain knowledge about the biological role of the factor in our body.

Care of certain human diseases needs medicines that contain biological products that are usually expensive to make. Transgenic animals may be used to make these biological products. Incorporation of genes of a specific product into transgenics will result in the production of that biological product. Before applying vaccines on humans, they need to be tested first for safety on transgenic mice. Transgenic mice are presently in use to test the safety of polio vaccines. If the test is successful and genuine, transgenic mice will take place of uses of monkeys to test the safety of these vaccines.

The safety of substances is also tested by using transgenics. As a result of this, transgenic animals are made with genes that allow them more sensitive to the toxic substance under study. Continuously, they are exposed to the toxic substance and the impacts are studied.

Biopiracy is the use of bio-resources by multinational companies without proper compensation or authorization to the people or country concerned. Most developed, financially rich nations are poor in traditional know-how; while it is the opposite for developing nations. This brings about the exploitation of the traditional knowledge to develop modern, commercial applications which save the makers time, money and effort. People are now aware of the injustice and inadequacy in compensation and sharing of advantages between the less developed and developed nations. Because of this, several nations now have laws that prevent other nations from exploiting their bio-resources and traditional knowledge.


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