It’s been more than a decade since humans have cracked their own genetic code, but we’ve yet to wake up to a world of engineered lifeforms on the Island of Dr. Moreau. While we’re waiting for genetic science to mature maybe we should take a good long look at cows. Specifically, the Belgian Blue. This muscle bound meathead is a monument to the genetic power of selective breeding. A single genetic defect, a faulty myostatin gene, is responsible for its enormous bulk, and that defect was carefully passed on through the breed for more than a century before it was even known what was causing the cattle’s impressive ‘double muscling.’ Watch the introduction to life of the modern Belgian Blue in the video from National Geographic below. Before we dive into modifying the human gene pool, we better learn the lessons that working with the Belgian Blue has taught us: even the most primitive genetic tools are immensely powerful, they raise serious ethical concerns, and their results are so impressive as to almost guarantee their use. With genetic testing on the rise, and artificial insemination more prevalent, sex is primed to undergo a major renaissance in the years before it’s outdone by genetic engineering.
For those who have never seen a Belgian Blue in person, the experience is…dramatic. Imagine walking past a dozen or so regular bulls and being intimidated by their sheer size and strength. Then imagine passing a bull so heavily laden with muscle it makes all those scary bulls look like cupcakes. That’s the Belgian Blue, and despite the breeds docility, it never fails to impress onlookers as a very frightening animal