In a research project meant to ensure international food security in a time of climate change, scientists at the University of Delaware have come up with a novel way to fight global warming: make chickens cooler. Researchers are currently in a race to breed an African variety of chicken in the U.S., which lacks neck feathers and makes it better equipped to withstand hot environments. The goal, though, is for the chickens to be mass produced for factory farming purposes. As the Los Angeles Times points out, there's a massive conundrum right in the center of the project:
Some climate-change activists dismiss the work, which is just getting underway, as a distraction and a concession to industrial-style agriculture, which they blame for compounding the world's environmental problems ... Because raising animals demands so many resources, the only viable way to hit global targets for greenhouse gas reduction may be to encourage people to eat less meat.
But the issue with the research project isn't simply the problems inherent in trying to continue factory farming in order to combat the ramifications of factory farming. Genetically modifying chickens also poses threats to animal welfare, as previous studies have shown. Additionally, researchers have already discovered that introducing new animal breeds to the American agricultural gene pool doesn't always go over well: scientists who tried to introduce a new breed of cattle found that it didn't suit American consumers' tastes, meaning the alteration to the animals' genetics was, essentially, in vain.