Katrien Devolder
Oxford University
Genome editing in livestock could potentially be used in ways that help resolve some of the most urgent and serious global problems pertaining to livestock, including animal suffering, pollution, antimicrobial resistance, and the spread of infectious disease. But despite this potential, some may object to pursuing it, not because genome editing is wrong in and of itself, but because it is the wrong kind of solution to the problems it addresses: it is merely a ‘technological fix’ to a complex societal problem. Yet though this objection might have wide intuitive appeal, it is often not clear what, exactly, the moral problem is supposed to be. The aim of this paper is to formulate and shed some light on the ‘technological fix objection’ to genome editing in livestock. I suggest that three concerns may underlie it, make implicit assumptions underlying the concerns explicit, and cast some doubt on several of these assumptions, at least as they apply to the use of genome editing to produce pigs resistant to the Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome and hornless dairy cattle. I then suggest that the third, and most important, concern could be framed as a concern about complicity in factory farming. I suggest ways to evaluate this concern, and to reduce or offset any complicity in factory farming. Thinking of genome editing’s contribution to factory farming in terms of complicity, may, I suggest, tie it more explicitly and strongly to the wider obligations that come with pursuing it, including the cessation of factory farming, thereby addressing the concern that technological fixes focus only on a narrow problem.
Keywords Gene editing  Agricultural ethics  Technological Fix  Complicity  Environmental ethics
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DOI 10.1007/s10806-021-09858-z
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References found in this work BETA

On Complicity and Compromise.Chiara Lepora - 2013 - Oxford University Press.
Individual Complicity: The Tortured Patient.Chiara Lepora - 2013 - In Chiara Lepora & Robert Goodin (eds.), On complicity and compromise. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
The Technological Fix Criticisms and the Agricultural Biotechnology Debate.Dane Scott - 2011 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 24 (3):207-226.

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