18 August 1995

CIWFrefutes misleading allegations

ANIMAL welfare group Compassion in World Farming has denied that its new report on genetic engineering is deliberately misleading.

The report, Gene Transfer and the Welfare of Farm Animals, claims to expose the cruelties involved in the genetic engineering of farm animals.

Although CIWF lists numerous cases of genetically engineered animals that suffer problems such as damaged joints, pneumonia, cancer and arthritis, it fails to point out that all the examples are taken from research studies in the USA and Australia. None of the work relates to British animals or to research in this country.

The reports author, Dr Tim OBrien, insists that he is not scaremongering or deliberately trying to capitalise on the recent upsurge in public interest in animal welfare issues.

"I dont see it that way. The work on this report began early last year so its initiation predated the unexpected rise in public interest about animal welfare," he said.

Dr OBriens study also dismissed scientists claims that genetically engineered farm animals would provide medicines for human illnesses, organs for human transplant operations, and more food for the hungry people of the world.

The NFU said that research in other countries did have an impact on the UK. There were many emerging technologies, around the world, said a spokeswoman. She added that the union believed biotechnology would make a major contribution to agriculture but that animal welfare must always be put first.