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Lawmakers seek overhaul of animal biotechnology rules

by Britt E. Erickson
October 17, 2021 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 99, Issue 38


Five pigs in a stall.
Credit: Shutterstock
Pork producers are hoping for changes that would accelerate regulatory approval of genetically modified hogs that are resistant to certain diseases.

Members of the House Agriculture Committee are urging the US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration to modernize the regulatory system for animal biotechnology to ensure that such innovations enter the market in a timely manner. In an Oct. 7 letter to the heads of both agencies, the lawmakers call for an “efficient, risk- and science-based regulatory system that can create a safe, predictable path to market” for genetically engineered animals. The FDA, which has jurisdiction over animals developed using biotechnology, has approved only two such animals for agricultural purposes in the past 25 years, the lawmakers write. Those approvals took decades, they say, claiming that the current regulatory system stifles important advances in agricultural biotechnology. The Donald J. Trump administration attempted to speed up the process by shifting oversight of biotech animals from the FDA to the USDA, but the transfer has yet to happen. The agencies are considering whether the USDA should conduct assessments of biotech animals related to food safety and increased susceptibility to livestock diseases.


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