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August 05, 2020 - One Green Planet

The Genetically Modified Chicken: How We Have Altered 'Broiler' Chickens for Profit

The Genetically Modified Chicken: How We Have Altered 'Broiler' Chickens for Profit
Chickens suffering on factory farm File Image: (c) Photabulous!

Dr. Frankenstein is alive and well, and he is running our food system.

There has been quite a bit of buzz lately about GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms), especially corn and soy. But what many people don’t realize is that the agriculture industry has also been genetically modifying farmed animals for years. The results of decades of selective breeding are even more shocking and strange than pesticide-resistant corn or apples that never turn brown. One good example of the bizarre outcome of these cruel experiments is the modern chicken.

The chicken is no longer just a chicken. Depending on what they are bred for, modern chickens are either “layers” or “broilers.” Bred, of course, to lay eggs, layers have been so dramatically altered that they can lay more than 250 eggs per year, while their ancestors in the jungle laid about two dozen annually. They do not grow fast enough to be used for meat, however, which is why all of the non-egg-producing males of the layer breeds are killed soon after hatching. This is where the “broilers” come in.

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