Breeding animals solely for the purpose of using them as pets is not a new practice. Humans have been Selectively Breeding all sorts of animals ever since the dawn of humanity to produce more desirable pets that are docile & helpful. Pets & their products form a Multi Billion Dollar Market that everyone wants to profit from.
Now a famous Chinese Research Institute, called BGI has decided to take breeding a step further by using its Gene-Editing Technology to create and sell Micropigs as Pets. Although micropigs, also called “Teacup Pigs” aren’t a new item on the pet market, the difference remains that these new pigs are genetically shrunk using a special enzyme called TALEN, while normal micropigs, if you can call them normal, are generally shrunk through breeding of runts.
The team of researchers at BGI used Genetically Modified Male Pigs with normal female pigs to create a new generation of pigs, half of which were micropigs. The pigs created through this process were the size of a medium sized dog, weighting around 15kg (33 pounds). An additional benefit of this process is that it helps the pigs avoid the medical problems that are usually associated with cloned pigs.
BGI uses these pigs both as test subjects for further genetic studies as well as pets to sell. The proceeds from these sales are used to fund the same cutting edge genetic research that led to the invention of these pigs in the first place.
While these pigs look cute & the purpose of their sale seems noble, it still raises a lot of controversy & debates about the ethics of genetically engineering pets.
So far, however, BGI says its gene-edited pigs have had no health concerns. In fact, future buyers may even have the option of pigs with customized coat colors and patterns. The concern is that if research organizations started focusing on the monetary benefits of genetically modified pets, it might derail the progress of more useful research focused solely on medical and agricultural purposes.
On the other hand, there are supporters of this move, who think that these debates are just overreactions. They believe that this new technology is a natural progression to animal breeding. No matter which side you take in the argument, one thing is true, once the demand for Customized Pets with unique physical traits starts, there will be more companies ready to supply.
Now we just have to wait & see, which animal would you want to be chosen next for such experimentation?