The public experience with animal biotechnology often starts and ends with Dolly the sheep, the first mammal ever cloned from an adult cell. The hype that surrounded Dolly rapidly became entangled with the debate over human cloning, and the ensuing discussion failed to elaborate on, or even differentiate between, the broad range of technologies encompassed by the ill-defined term "animal biotechnology". In the absence of information, animal biotechnologies tend to evoke a negative reaction. To address this knowledge deficit and the fact that few general audience educational resources about this topic have been developed by publicly-funded animal scientists, a 30-minute educational movie entitled Animal Biotechnology was produced.
The movie begins with a brief historical description of the development of various animal biotechnologies and places the most controversial of these technologies, cloning and genetic engineering, within that framework. Both biomedical and agricultural applications of animal biotechnology are discussed, in addition to some of the science-based and ethical concerns that are engendered by certain applications. Excerpts from interviews with leading academic and industry scientists in the field, conducted at the UC Davis Transgenic Animal Conference in 2007, are interspersed throughout the movie. The script and visuals underwent anonymous scientific peer-review prior to release.
The target audience for the movie includes college and high school students and interested members of the general public. To make the movie widely available to the general public, it will be posted on YouTube, the UC Davis Animal Biotechnology website, and DVD copies will be made available to educators and other interested parties at scientific and educational meetings. Funding for this project was provided by USDA NRI Grant 2005-55204-15745.