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Gene Doping—in Animals? Ethical Issues at the Intersection of Animal Use, Gene Editing, and Sports Ethics

  • CAROLYN P. NEUHAUS and BRENDAN PARENT
Abstract:

Gene editors such as CRISPR could be used to create stronger, faster, or more resilient nonhuman animals. This is of keen interest to people who breed, train, race, and profit off the millions of animals used in sport that contribute billions of dollars to legal and illegal economies across the globe. People have tried for millennia to perfect sport animals; CRISPR proposes to do in one generation what might have taken decades previously. Moreover, gene editing may facilitate enhancing animals’ capacities beyond their typical limits. This paper describes the state of animal use and engineering for sport, examines the moral status of animals, and analyzes current and future ethical issues at the intersection of animal use, gene editing, and sports. We argue that animal sport enthusiasts and animal welfarists alike should be concerned about the inevitable use of CRISPR in sport animals. Though in principle CRISPR could be used to improve sport animals’ well-being, we think it is unlikely in practice to do so.

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Notes

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5. In setting up this discussion by showing differences in capacities between humans and other animals, we do not mean to imply that species membership is morally important. Rather, we aim to show that capacities, and the interests they generate, are relevant to determining what we owe to other creatures, regardless of species. As has been argued by Singer and others, species membership is less relevant to rights and moral worth than the demonstration of capacities and interests. See Singer P. Animal Liberation. New York: New York Review; 1975. See also DeGrazia D. Taking Animals Seriously: Mental Life and Moral Status. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 1996.

6. Beauchamp, TL. Rights theory and animal rights. In: Beauchamp, TL, Frey, RG, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Animal Ethics. New York: Oxford University Press; 2011:198227.

7. Crowther, NB. Sport in Ancient Times. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press; 2010, at 17-18.

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9. See Note 7, at 46.

10. Ibid., at 21.

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14. See Note 12.

15. See Note 13.

16. See Note 7, at 132–3.

17. Swenson, K. Dog racing ‘has a drug problem’ as 12 Florida greyhounds test positive for cocaine. The Washington Post; 2017 July 6 (Morning Mix); available at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/07/06/dog-racing-has-a-drug-problem-as-12-florida-greyhounds-test-positive-for-cocaine/?utm_term=.de6dca6628cf (last accessed 15 Mar 2018).

18. Ibid.

19. Associated Press. Iditarod sled dog race engulfed in dog-doping scandal. VOA News; 2017 Oct 24 (Arts & Entertainment); available at https://www.voanews.com/a/iditarod-sled-dog-race-doping-scandal/4084473.html (last accessed 15 Mar 2018).

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23. Doucleff, M. Iditarod sled dog race. Cell 2012 Mar 2;148(5):839–41.

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25. Rosenblum, A. A biohacker’s plan to upgrade Dalmatians ends up in the doghouse. MIT Technology Review; 2017 Feb 1 (Rewriting Life); available at https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603530/a-biohackers-plan-to-upgrade-dalmatians-ends-up-in-the-doghouse (last accessed 22 Mar 2018).

26. See Note 20.

27. Zayner, Josiah, quoted in Jacobson, R. Hacking your genes has never been easier. Outside Online; 2017 Sept 6 (Features); available at https://www.outsideonline.com/2238276/ultimate-life-hack (last accessed 22 Mar 2018).

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30. Walker, R. Human and animal subjects of research: The moral significance of respect versus welfare. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics; 2006;27:305–31, at 319.

31. Ibid.

32. Fenton A. Can a chimp say “No”? Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 2014;23:130–9, at 134.

33. Shriver, A. Knocking out pain in livestock: Can technology succeed where morality has stalled? Neuroethics 2009;2(3):115–24; Shriver, A, McConnachie, E. Genetically modifying livestock for improved welfare: A path forward. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics ; 2018 Mar 3:120.

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Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics
  • ISSN: 0963-1801
  • EISSN: 1469-2147
  • URL: /core/journals/cambridge-quarterly-of-healthcare-ethics
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