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Manipulating nature: Scientists query wildlife birth-control method

fertile because they were unresponsive to self-antigens.

His second concern is that the technique is effectively a form of genetic engineering: "Immunocontraception alters the gene pool of the targeted species because those animals who are unresponsive are genetically unusual individuals," he says.

"The job of the immunological system is to combat disease-causing organisms. But there is a danger that the selected minority might be more susceptible to diseases, or that they would be better at carrying disease-causing agents which could affect other animals with which they come in contact.

"Unless we are certain about these effects, altering the genetic capacity of a wild population to mount immune responses should not be permitted.

"The third concern is that animals are suffering side-effects from multiple injections and adjuvant substances (catalysts that modify the action of other agents) designed to boost the effectiveness of immuno-contraceptives.

"The most commonly used adjuvant, Freund's adjuvant, also induces a range of undesirable side-effects and its use is being challenged on animal-welfare grounds."


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Contact: Professor Des Cooper
des.cooper@unsw.edu.au
61-437-677-269
University of New South Wales
11-Feb-2007


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