Philosopher Adam Shriver suggested that genetically engineering cows to feel no pain
could be an acceptable alternative to eliminating factory farming in a paper published in Neuroscience
. Work by neuroscientist Zhou-Feng Chen at Washington University may turn Shriver's suggestion a reality. Chen has been working on identifying the genes that control "affective" pain, the unpleasantness part of a painful sensation. He has managed to isolate a gene called P311, and has found that mice who do not have P311 don't have negative associations with pain, although they do react negatively to heat and pressure. This could end much of the concern about cruel farming practices, but unfortunately still leaves my design for the fiery hamburger punch in the unethical column.