Proposed US rules on gene-edited crops, animals could hamper technology’s potential

Graduate student Lindsay Upperman (left), and animal geneticist Alison Van Eenennaam at UC Davis with gene-edited hornless dairy calves. (Photo by Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

US regulatory agencies have proposed guidelines and draft regulations that suggest they may subject gene-edited crops and livestock to the same prolonged review now imposed on transgenic plants and animals.

Some university researchers have expressed concern over the proposals, saying there is no scientific justification for such an approach, which would impose impediments to agricultural innovations that address animal welfare, environmental sustainability and climate change concerns.

Some researchers have objected to the proposed guidelines, saying they’re scientifically unsound and excessively burdensome, especially since genetically engineered crops have been safely cultivated and consumed since 1994.

Other scientists say the proposed rules presume hazards despite a lack of supporting evidence and fail to accurately assess risks. As Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, a University of California at Davis livestock cooperative extension specialist, noted: “It is not the intent or method behind the alteration that is important, but rather the phenotype that results from the alteration that is associated with any potential risks.”

The current regulatory process for genetically engineered animals, which the FDA proposes extending to those produced through gene-edited, has been so onerous that only one animal — a fast-growing salmon — has been approved in 28 years, at a cost of more than $80 million.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Proposed US rules have global implications for gene editing