Think-Tank on Genome Editing in Farmed Animal

The work package 5 think-tank on genome editing in farmed animals for the EuroFAANG RI project aims to connect experts in genome editing, ethics, and animal breeding across Europe to create a platform for responsible genome editing research and application in farm animals. This platform is a hub for discussions and collaboration on critical topics, such as ethics, adoption barriers, societal perspectives, defining terms, and maintaining scientific rigour in genome editing. It aims to foster dialogue, facilitate sharing of insights and practical applications, and to address potential challenges related to genome editing in farmed animals.

As a collaborative initiative, it is dedicated to fostering responsible genome editing research and its application in farmed animals and exploring ways to expand capacity and capabilities for using the technology for G2P research. This platform, strategically formed and launched on October 5th, brings together experts in genome editing, ethics, and animal breeding from across Europe, serving as a hub for informed dialogue and strategic collaborations on critical topics.

Our first think tank event provided valuable insights into the complex landscape of gene editing in farmed animals. It revealed a setting characterised by substantial opportunities and significant challenges. Gene editing can potentially revolutionise the agricultural sector by improving animal health, welfare, and sustainability. However, it also faces hurdles such as limited understanding of genome function, phenotypic uncertainty, societal perceptions, regulatory divergence, market acceptance, off-target effects, resource and testing gaps, legislative ambiguity, historical trust issues, and concerns about genetic diversity.

We have identified key priority areas, including consumer and stakeholder engagement, educational outreach, genomic variant testing, animal health and welfare improvement, and scalability. Concentrating on these areas will be crucial in harnessing gene editing’s full potential.

Our ultimate aim for the EuroFAANG RI project is to promote responsible gene editing practices for G2P research in farmed animals that benefit both the agricultural sector and society at large. We look forward to continuing our work in this exciting and important field.

To date, the think-tank has met virtually twice and discussed the following topics:

Meeting 1 – Barriers, opportunities and priorities for genome editing in farmed animals in Europe

Meeting 2 – 1. Key definitions associated with genome editing, 2. The potential of high-throughput cellular phenotyping systems and CRISPR screens

The think tank also hosted a webinar by Dr Finn Grey, a leading expert in genome-wide CRISPR screens who is based at the Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh.

 

 

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A European Think-Tank on Genome Editing for the EuroFAANG RI Project

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Geena Cartick

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