Selective breeding has been an important component in the increased output and efficiency of animal production since the 1950's. At the same time there has been increasing moral concern over the welfare of modern farmed animals with much of the focus on the environment and management of farm animals and relatively little consideration of the impact of genetic change on welfare. This is now changing, partly because of some well-publicised examples where selection has led to ‘undesirable’ side effects, and because of the perceived welfare risk of emerging biotechnologies. This paper will address whether and how moral concerns over animal welfare should place limitations on genetic change in animal production.
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