Advocacy groups and biotechnology opponents urge FDA to strictly regulate genetically engineered animals

Credit: Eric Mortenson/Capital Press
Credit: Eric Mortenson/Capital Press

In January, the Trump administration proposed that the FDA, USDA and the U.S. Health and Human Services Department sign a memorandum of understanding [or MOU]. Under it, USDA would have provided end-to-end oversight, from pre-market reviews through post-market food safety monitoring for farm animals modified or developed using genetic engineering that are intended for human food.

However, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn refused to sign the MOU, saying he didn’t support it and intended to disregard it.

“FDA remains undeterred in our steadfast commitment to ensure that animal agriculture biotechnology products undergo independent and science- and risk-based evaluations by our career experts,” Hahn said in a Twitter post in January.

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In announcing the MOU, former USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, repeated animal and meat industry arguments that FDA’s safety-oriented regulatory approach impedes rapid commercialization of GE animals.

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The animal agriculture industry has demanded regulatory certainty to expedite investment in and commercialization of GE animals, the groups said.

“However, reassigning regulatory authority to an agency avid to market GE products worldwide represents a conflict of interest and very likely could compromise the scientific integrity of novel GE animals,” they said.

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