Viewpoint: Excessive animal biotech rules hinder our efforts to battle coronavirus

pig poo happy pigs
Credit: Inhabitat

To help the U.S. better prepare for the future, we need changes to the U.S. animal biotechnology regulatory system. The U.S. government’s current approach to regulating animal biotechnology as a “new animal drug” has all but destroyed investment and blocked market access for a host of beneficial products.

Biotechnology, for example, could arm pigs with resistance to African Swine Fever. Similarly, scientists have developed a chicken that is resistant to contracting and transmitting avian influenza.

Other innovations in animal biotechnology may be able prevent, prepare for, and respond to outbreaks of infectious diseases such as coronavirus, Ebola, MERS, Zika, among others, by providing prevention strategies and treatments for humans.

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Unfortunately, the United States regulatory system for animal biotechnology is not appropriately science- or risk-based, and as a result we are falling behind other countries, such as Brazil, where innovative start-ups are finding more support.

Indeed, despite decades of animal biotechnology research and advances, only one biotech food animal has been approved to date – the AquaBounty salmon – which languished in the U.S. regulatory system for more than two decades and still has not hit the market because of political interference.

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