Genetic technology offers us the potential to beat equine disease and boost performance, but how far should we go? Dr Madeleine Campbell MRCVS outlines the ethical issues
The development of new genetic technologies is simultaneously one of the most scientifically extraordinary and most ethically challenging aspects of modern veterinary medicine.
Over recent years, we have developed the ability not only to test adult horses for genetically heritable traits, but also to screen equine embryos prior to transfer into a mare. With the advent of genetic editing, we stand poised at the beginning of an era in which humans can manipulate the equine genome in ways that can affect both current and future generations of horses.
However, while this offers us wonderful opportunities to improve equine health and welfare, it also opens up some fascinating ethical questions.