Counting on Trump: Approval of biotech animals may rely on circumventing FDA

pigsbiotechanimals
These gene-edited piglets are resistant to infection by PRRS, a common, and incurable, respiratory virus of swine.

The lobbying effort to get the FDA out of the way of biotech animals is under way.

[Recombinetics] is using gene editing, a new kind of precise molecular scissors, to create farm animals with useful properties. Gene editing, unlike its controversial cousin, transgenic modification, tweaks an organism’s DNA but doesn’t introduce any from other species.

Recombinetics and its partners have already used gene editing to make black-and-white Holstein dairy cattle with no horns and male pigs that never reach sexual maturity, avoiding the “boar taint” that can make pork chops unpleasant.

The problem is that right now, the US Food and Drug Administration says it regulates such edits to animals’ DNA as if they were drugs and will demand substantial safety tests. Recombinetics says that makes no sense; hornless cattle made with gene editing, it argues, are identical to what you could get by crossbreeding dairy cows with naturally hornless cattle.

Now MIT Technology Review has learned that industry officials are trying to get the administration of President Donald Trump to solve their problem at a stroke by shifting responsibility for the animals from the FDA to the US Department of Agriculture. That agency has already decided that gene-edited plants (unlike transgenic ones) can be planted and sold in an unregulated fashion.

Whatever the U.S. decides to do with biotech animals will have global repercussions.

Read full, original post: Farmland gene editors want cows without horns, pigs without tails, and business without regulations

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