Letter: Designer pigs

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The Independent Online
YOUR report 'Race to design pigs that live on grass' (17 October) listed some of the genetically altered animal 'inventions' that have been granted, or are seeking, a patent. However, you failed to mention the considerable opposition, on moral and welfare grounds, to the granting of animal patents.

The first animal to be patented in Europe was the oncomouse, an animal predisposed, through genetic manipulation, to develop cancer. This patent was granted, after appeal, despite the wording of the European Patent Convention which prevents a patent being granted for use 'contrary to morality'. To 'invent' an animal the purpose of which is to develop cancer is indeed immoral, since it condemns it to suffer and subverts the animal's own purpose as part of creation.

Patenting such 'inventions' ensures a commercial return for companies involved in transgenic manipulations and hence encourages the development of bizarre and unnecessary mutant forms of life.

However desirable it would be to exclude animals from patent law, this seems unlikely. The least that can be done, therefore, is to build effective welfare safeguards into legislation.

Catherine Tuckey

Compassion In World Farming

Aberdeen

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