Fowl Genetics

Big-Breasted Turkey

Big-Breasted Turkey

Turkey Day will be coming soon, so it’s a good time to talk turkey. The modern American big-breasted “super turkey,” after all, may foreshadow of the future of human genetic manipulation. You see, the turkey we eat today isn’t the native turkey our forefathers ate at their first Thanksgiving meal shortly after they colonized the continent. The mass-produced turkey most of us eat has been bred specifically to have extremely large breasts, which is considered to be the most desirable part, at least in this country. I happen to be a thigh, butt and wing man myself.

Wings are now in especially high demand as well. If we could breed turkeys with large breasts and four wings, we would probably have the ideal product.  In a large taste test that pitted the new breed of turkeys against many natural “heritage” breeds, consumers overwhelmingly preferred the “heritage” turkey breeds over the super big-breasted turkeys. Unfortunately, I guess size trumps taste on livestock breeders list of most desirable characteristics.

Breasts

Breasts

Anyway, there is also a downside to having large breasts, as most big-breasted women will tell you, and I’m not talking about the excessive unwanted attention of male turkeys, which also applies to women. I’m also not talking about taste, which may or may not apply to big-breasted women, since it has probably never been studied, at least not formally. The real problem is that these super-sized turkeys are no longer able to breed naturally. Their breasts are just too large and get in the way of procreation. Yeah, it sucks to be a male turkey these days. Our entire population of turkeys has to be artificially inseminated just to continue to reproduce. Maybe a longer penis is in order for the next generation of turkeys to make them self-sustainable creatures, but for now, livestock producers seem to be satisfied with just the big breasts.

These super-sized birds are also dim-witted and disease prone, requiring antibiotics to prevent a variety of sicknesses. Eighty percent of the antibiotics produced in the US are used on livestock, not people. So, not only do they taste worse, but we also end up consuming antibiotics that can only spell trouble for our own bodies, especially when they promote the rise of life-threatening antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Thanks so much for breeding a better turkey that poses a health risk for the entire population. I can only imagine how appalling these Frankenstein turkeys would seem to Charles Darwin.

Kim Kardashian's Butt

Kim Kardashian’s Butt

What about big butts? They haven’t quite caught on yet, but it’s still the first piece I go for. Yes, I’m still talking turkey. Some people like big butts on people too. Some women even like it so much on themselves that they are willing to undergo plastic surgery to make them bigger. Big breasts might be the first choice for enhanced female parts, but butts are quickly coming up from behind! How long will it be before we move from enhancement surgery to permanent genetic manipulation? Given the rapid pace of genetic science, it’s probably not that far off, and I suspect that enhanced human body parts are going to be at the top of the list after replacement organs. Will the future of humanity look more and more like Kim Kardashian? I’d like to say it isn’t so, but it just might. All it takes is money and a willing mad scientist.

Don’t get me wrong, I think there are plenty of good things that can come from genetic treatments or manipulation, assuming we take it slowly to try and avoid unanticipated consequences of messing with something we know very little about (our own bodies). The FDA is already reviewing mitochondrial manipulation technologies being developed to replace the nuclear material from human eggs or embryos with donor material to allow people to reproduce without passing on serious inheritable diseases. This could be a minor first step into the future of genetic breeding.

Favorite Dog Breeds

Favorite Dog Breeds

We’ve been breeding pets for thousands of years the old fashioned way and have come up with some pretty interesting breeds that people love and serve specific purposes. People just aren’t satisfied with the generic wolf dogs given to us by nature, so I suspect we will not be satisfied with the human features we’ve been given once we find ways to produce alternatives.

Human races used to be very distinct before the advent of cheap and easy transportation led to a massive increase in population mobility and more liberal societies encouraged the rise of multi-race families. Over a long period of time, this inter-mixing could eventually lead to the evolution of humanity into a generic race-less society. The only thing that might stop this trend is deliberate racial isolation or genetic manipulation designed to create distinct new breeds.

Elizabeth Banks as Effie in Hunger Games

Elizabeth Banks as Effie in Hunger Games

If technology is eventually used to change human characteristics, what will future human breeds look like? Will they be have over-sized butts that encourage correspondingly over-sized penises? Will they have super-sized breasts that result in overfed, obese newborn babies? Will we see a market emerge for super-sized brains, hearts, or muscles? What about different colors of skin, eyes, lips, or hair? Choose an attribute and somebody will probably want to enhance it somehow. Want to be an Olympic powerhouse in gymnastics? Breed short, muscular kids. Want to compete in basketball? Breed tall, fast kids. Will we all get the same enhancement? I doubt it. Variety is the spice of life, and I suspect that human breeding will eventually result in a variety of new creatures. Would a future Elizabeth Banks prefer to look like Effie in The Hunger Games or as her present self?

Elizabeth Banks as Herself

Elizabeth Banks as Herself

We may specialize into new breeds that emphasize athletic ability, brainpower, beauty, or social skills. Maybe the future will be like the movie Divergent after all, only our fate will be sealed through selective breeding instead of self-selection. What if you don’t like the selection that your parents made for you? Will you be allowed to diverge?

Maybe we should ask the aliens how they handled the genetic manipulation of their race or races. How are those big heads and tiny bodies working for you? You don’t seem to like big butts. Do you still even bother with sex? If you had a do-over, what would you change? Hmmm, maybe they are working on genetic experiments right now and we are the guinea pigs.

Alien Breeds

Alien Breeds

Genetically Modified Turkey

Genetically Modified Turkey

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