Professor Avigdor Cahaner, who led the project, defended
the bird by saying, "This is not a genetically modified chicken
- it comes from a natural breed whose characteristics have been known
for 50 years. I am just transferring that to fast growing broiler chickens.
It's a normal chicken except for the fact it has no feathers."
The scientists also hope the new breed will grow faster because it won't
need to use energy to grow feathers and that will would also cause the
chicken itself to grow larger.
The featherless chicken has so far not reached the large
"broiler' size, probably out of embarrassment. Other 'benefits"
which inspired the breeding of the chicken is energy conservation for
the processing plants. Without feathers to pluck, energy would be saved
and there would be no feathers to dispose of.
Opponents of the chicken say that the changes do not
benefit the animals, and are in fact likely to make their lives worse.
Males have been unable to mate because they cannot flap their wings
for balance, and this also effects the females. Because they are featherless,
chickens of both sexes are more susceptible to parasites, skin diseases,
mosquito attacks, temperature variations and sunburn. Those against
this tinkering say scientists should not decide by human 'logic' what
a chicken needs and doesn't need; they are born with their bodies, feathers
and all, for reasons.
"The chicken is disgusting", says Joyce D'Silva
of Compassion in World Farming. "It's a prime example of sick science
and the suggestion that it would be an improvement for developing countries
is obscene. To create an animal solely for the convenience of an industry
is sick. Chickens would never have 'evolved' to
be like this without human interference, nor would one survive if it
had been born like this 'naturally, so how is this not "engineering"?"