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Brainless Animals

Experimental Animals nobody will care if mistreated.
  (+2, -6)
(+2, -6)
  [vote for,

If we could genetically engineer various species of animals that have essentially no significant brain (JUST enough to keep heart beating, lungs pumping, etc, and CERTAINLY NO PAIN RECEPTORS), then perhaps they would be viewed as "primitive" enough that not even the animal-rights activists would object to experimentation on those animals.

I'm pretty sure that animal-rights activists don't object to experiments on bacteria in Petri dishes, so where do they draw the Line, among life-forms, that experimentation must be interpreted as cruelty?

All we need are large lifeforms with human-enough like metabolisms, on the "bacteria" side of that Line, for apprpriate testing of drugs, surgical procedures, OTHER genetic engineering experiments, etcetera.

Vernon, Aug 07 2001

Vat Grown Food http://www.halfbake.../Vat_20Grown_20Food
Similar idea, for eating purposes rather than drug testing. [egnor, Aug 07 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Mike's page http://home.nycap.r...s/headless_chicken/
Mike the headless chicken [FloridaManatee, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 06 2004]

Anencephalic infants as organ donors. http://home.earthli.../~mbwinner/tpf.html
See American Acadamy of Pediatrics statement linked at this site for more hard facts. [bungston, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 06 2004]


       Bearing in mind that psychological effects are a primary consideration in drugs testing, probably not a good idea.
-alx, Aug 07 2001

       For experiments testing for effects on people it would obviously be best to gene-engineer brainless humans. Oh wait we in the US already have them--Republicans! *runs fast for cover, giggling*
Dog Ed, Aug 07 2001

       re alx's point: I thought the primary considerations in drug testing were more along the lines of whether the skin falls off / impotence / blindness, etc., physiological reactions, I guess. If that's not correct then I guess it's a bad idea. Otherwise, I like it.
snarfyguy, Aug 07 2001

       [snarfyguy] Those things are all also of the utmost importance. But if a doctor offered you medication and told you that it wouldn't give you a rash or cause any immediate loss of limbs, but had no idea whether it would drive you loopy or not, would you take it?
-alx, Aug 07 2001

       -alx, why shouldn't testing of drugs for psychological effects be relegate to secondary testing, rather than primary testing? A brainless animal that doesn't fall apart and/or dead under the influence of some drug...is certainly an initial positive sign. And dissection could show any problems in the limited brains that such animals would possess. BOTH positive signs would be an indication that the drug is THEN suitable for testing on a brain-possessing animal, for psychological effects. Certainly such a scheme would be a significant step in the direction of reducing any perceived overt cruelty.
Vernon, Aug 08 2001

       OK, fair point, but I think the kind of engineered creature you're talking about will cause you definite problems with animal rights activists etc.   

       I think, if you're assuming the kind of technology exists which would allow you to create these animals, it wouldn't be hard to imagine being able to simulate the life processes of an organism and its reactions to various substances in silico. This would also leave you less open to attack from an ethical standpoint.
-alx, Aug 08 2001

       At last a [Vernon] idea which not only is less than 3,000 words, but also gives the impression that his tongue is firmly in his cheek. I hope.
angel, Aug 08 2001

       You just keep telling yourself that, and everything'll turn out fine. OK...?
-alx, Aug 09 2001

       Baked. We have them already. They are produced in vast quantities, raised in huge vat-like enclosures, abused, factory killed and stripped and sold as the cheapest possible meat - chickens. Chickens don't require heads for much more than food scoops. One called Mike lived for quite some time without a head at all. See link.
FloridaManatee, Dec 30 2002

       Hey, I didn't do it.   

       My only point was it's useful annecdotal evidence to suggest there's not much higher function going on in there.   

       Common practice in medical experimentation, when you don't know what's going on in a system is to destroy or block it and see what fails. In this case, Mike seemed to function without a brain. The body evenutally failed because of life support failure.   

       Hence, vernon's idea would probably work. Animal ethics of Vernon's suggestion is debateable.   

       Con: You're designing (or altering) otherwise sentient creatures to have no brains, clear violation of the natural order. Veganism, or at least free-range farming, is the only ethical solution.   

       Pro: A possibly more humane life than is currently offered to factory-farmed chickens. If the conversion/breeding can be done in a humane and painless way, it might save overall suffering, given economic constraints and society's hunger for meat.   

       An alternative solution: Breed a super intelligent animal, educate him in the implications of his/her slaughter and let it make an informed decision. Oops (baked). See Restaurant at the End of the Universe (Douglas Adams).
FloridaManatee, Dec 31 2002

       The ideas motivating this proposal are decent, practical and humane. Many experiments and tests - for example, those that model cancer in animals, check the effects of drugs on the liver, etc etc, are only hindered by the presence of a brain - not only does a "brained" animal move around, clean itself etc but often seperate provisions must be taken to anaesthetize animals that can feel pain. Brainless animals would solve this problem and be well suited to be experimental subjects.   

       It might be possible to treat female mice or dogs with chemicals such that they produce brainless offspring. Brainlessness is a very common birth defect in humans called anencephaly, and might be due to environmental toxins or vitamin deficiencies. There is a lot about this on the web. An apropos site is linked above - this is a very warm and tender site about organ donation by anencephalic babies - no joke. Please - no-one propose inducing anencephaly in humans for any purpose. But it is not unreasonable to do so in animals destined to be research subjects. Croissant.
bungston, Dec 31 2002

       My college degree was to be a pharmaceutical bunny poker. They called it 'pharmacology and toxicology'. It wasn't until I was halfway through that I realised what the job (as opposed to the study) really involved.   

       Just look up LD50, experimental protocol and get ready to cry.   

       You have to be really cold or sick to enjoy that job. Anyway, I'd be more than happy to see a few sacrificed to develop a test that avoids more widespread sufferring. In that context, the development of brainless animals seems good.   

       Actually, to be specific, lack of higher brain function/ consciousness but with brain-stem function is needed. Scientists need brain-stem function to detect many of the warning signs of toxicology. Besides, brain-stem function is necessary for many life-sustaining physiological functions, such as breathing.   

       I believe a pharmacological agent has already been developed to accomplish this. It's called H2O2 and it's applied to the exterior of the skin covering the cranium from early onwards. Brain-stem function is preserved, but higher function is markedly depressed, and in some cases can be demonstrated to be absent.
FloridaManatee, Jan 02 2003


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