North Carolina Law Review

University of North Carolina School of Law

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Chapel Hill, NC 27514

BEFORE WE MAKE A PIG’S EAR OF IT: HOW NORTH CAROLINA HOG-FARMING NUISANCE SUITS PROVIDE CONTEXT FOR THE ETHICS OF GENE EDITING LIVESTOCK

97 N.C. L. REV. 1273 (2019)

 

The development of accelerated gene-editing techniques, including clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR), carries ethical, legal, and social implications for agriculture. There are some in the genomic sciences who dread continuation of—and others who hope to reset—fractious moral debates characteristic of social discourse during the advent of genetically engineered plants in the 1990s. First, we review the current ethical principles underlying regulation and governance of genetic technologies and research involving nonhuman animals. Second, we explore existing ethical tensions and social debates about hog farming, nuisance suits, and Right-to-Farm legislation in North Carolina, a U.S. context into which gene edited pigs are likely to be introduced. The ethical issues of land use, environmental justice, global food security, and food ethics reach far beyond risk-based ethics frameworks that often lie behind standard research ethics and U.S. regulatory approaches. Third, we argue that gene editing in agriculture calls for a broader bioethics. We consider lessons learned and limitations of community engagement currently taking place around gene drives for reducing mosquito-borne illnesses. Bioethics can improve and develop new modes of engagement to bridge important policy gaps through novel forms of engagement among stakeholders, including those with genetic, farming, environmental, and local knowledge.

 

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