Add to collection
  • + Create new collection
  • In this activity, students explore different stakeholders’ perspectives on using transgenic cows to make medicines and weigh up the consequences, both benefits (pluses) and harms (minuses) in order to guide decision-making on this issue. The activity forms part of the unit plan Ethics of transgenic cows.


    Students discuss an ethical issue using a consequentialist ethical framework, which weighs up the benefits (pluses) and harms (minuses). This approach will encourage class discussion and help students to make an informed and justified decision on this ethical issue.

    An update: changes in funding mean that AgResearch is no longer active in biomedical research projects. In its 2017 report to the EPA, AgResearch noted that it still has around 40 transgenic cows in its Waikato containment facility. Most of these cows are for casein and beta-lactoglobulin (BLG) research. Although some research mentioned in the transgenic cows story has ceased, the ethical issues involved in genetic modification of animals remain.


    Ethics, transgenics, consequences, harms, benefits, genetic modification.

    Related content

    The Ethics thinking toolkit uses common ethical frameworks to help you explore ethical decision-making and judgements with your students. For more about ethical frameworks and teaching ethical thinking, see Frameworks for ethical analysis and Teaching ethics.

    See our recorded professional learning webinar in which we use the toolkit and other Science Learning Hub resources to explore ethical issues in various science contexts and to model strategies to support students’ thinking in science.

    This article is a handy curation of all of our resources on transgenic cows, including these activities below:

      Published 18 July 2011, Updated 13 March 2018 Referencing Hub articles
          Go to full glossary
          Download all