Jim Greenwood, CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) and board member of the National Audubon Society, has written an enlightening submission to the Capitol Hill news site, The Hill, which highlights the connections humans have with animals. It is already known that fostering relationships with animals has been scientifically shown to be beneficial for one’s mental health. Now, as Greenwood explains, the relationship goes even deeper.
Animal research has been shown to greatly improve the lives of both humans and animals. To put this fact in perspective, sixty percent of all human diseases can be spread by animals, and livestock are particularly at risk. To mediate this problem, scientists have carefully modified the genomes of livestock to make them less susceptible to spreading disease. One example provided by Greenwood are chickens. These ubiquitous birds have been modified to prevent the transmission of bird flu to other chickens, which then decreases the threat of a bird flu epidemic in humans. In addition, other researchers have found ways to combat other deadly diseases, like Ebola and the Zika virus, by using animal models such as cows and mosquitos.
Greenwood goes on to note that animal studies are “key to discovering, developing and manufacturing new treatments for human diseases. Animal models of human diseases have helped scientists understand how and why a particular disease develops and what can be done to halt or reverse the process.”
Research performed with animals has saved the lives of many people and with continued use of animal research, scientists can save the lives of millions more. As Greenwood states, “Today, many people with once-fatal diseases are alive and healthy thanks to scientific breakthroughs made possible by studying animals. Tomorrow, thanks to ongoing advances in animal biotechnology, we can envision an even more hopeful and humane future for our planet, its people and our animal friends.”
To read Greenwood’s op-ed, please click here.