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Bigger and Beefier

Researchers in China are embracing genome-editing tools to modify animals, Nature News reports.

"China's government has allocated a lot of financial support in genetically modified animals in both [the] agriculture field [and the] biomedicine field," says Liangxue Lai from the Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health.

So far, Chinese researchers have reported developing muscly beagles, beefed-up and extra-woolly sheep, and micropigs, among other animals. Many of these projects, Nature News says, are aimed at changing animal husbandry and developing more muscled livestock to meet a growing demand for meat.

While genome editing opens up many possibilities, its use also raises ethical concerns, Nature News adds, as changes made via CRISPR/Cas9 in zygotes or embryos can be passed on to subsequent generations.

"As with any intervention, there's always a trade-off in issues between human welfare and animal welfare and gauging the environmental impacts," Harvard Medical School's George Daley says of the push for "improved" livestock.

But, Nature News notes, such designer meats might not be on Chinese dinner tables any time soon. The Chinese government, it adds, spent a lot on genetically modified crops, but delayed their commercialization because of public resistance.