Flood Warning

Pork Producers Call for USDA to Take Over Gene Editing

Just like plants have gene editing technology, animals too can be edited to resist certain diseases or be more productive and healthy.

But the emerging technology is stalled at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and has been for a while. So the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is renewing the call for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to have regulatory oversight instead.

Gene editing does not introduce different genes from other species but looks at what is in an animal like a pig and activates or disables those genes.

At the 95th Agricultural outlook Forum, NPPC says gene editing for livestock farmers will reduce antibiotics needed to care for animals and reduce environmental impacts.

Neil Dierks with the Pork Producers says agriculture department is in a better position to oversee the technology, "If they are things that traditionally show up in nature, and it's just the fact that our classic swine breeding hasn't gotten us to the point of utilizing that genetic advantage, and it can be done through genetic editing, and it's safe, and it's normal and it's common. We think it makes a lot more sense for USDA to apply the oversight."

Dierks says part of the reason the FDA has authority was so there would be no doubt in the minds of people buying animal products. But there are some genetic edited products that still are under review and approval after 20 years, even though countries like Canada have approved similar products.

He says that's the other concern, a bottled up process could put U.S. producers at a competitive disadvantage.

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