Now that we’re all stuffed with turkey, I thought it was timely to note an AP article on the research into perfecting the turkey.  Most turkeys have been selectively bred for their white meat for so long that even walking can be a problem for many of the big-breasted birds and sex is no longer possible.  A research team is now hoping to come to the rescue, employing the latest in biotechnology to chart the turkey’s genetic map to eventually alleviate the breeding problems.  The idea is to identify specific genes that produce desirable traits such as salmonella resistance, strong leg muscles and, of course, big breasts.

That would do away with much of the guesswork involved in traditional breeding methods as farmers try to match birds that appear to have the sought-after qualities.  With just $1 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and two commercial poultry interests, the researchers hope to publish by year’s end a guide to roughly 300 turkey genes, and have twice that many by next Thanksgiving, far short of the turkey’s 25,000 genes.  Animal rights activists believe this is not enough since turkeys will still be treated as commodities and more is needed to alleviate suffering.

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