Organization asks for USDA involvement in gene editing to maintain competitiveness with other countries
The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is again asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture for regulatory oversight of livestock gene editing.
NPPC’s request follows the stall in the “development of an emerging technology promising major animal health and environmental benefits” at the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), an NPPC release
The FDA has regulatory authority over gene editing in livestock but no statutory obligation. FDA oversight will “treat any gene-edited animal as a living animal drug – and every farm raising them a drug manufacturing facility,” the release said. This approach reduces the competitiveness of U.S. agriculture in comparison to other countries with more progressive gene editing regulatory policies, NPPC said.
The FDA’s pace in handling the gene-editing regulations reinforces the belief that the USDA is best equipped to oversee this work, Jim Heimerl, NPPC president and pork producer from Ohio, said in the release.
“U.S. agriculture is one our nation’s most successful export products; we can’t afford to cede leadership of gene editing to other countries,” he said.
This new technology offers many benefits for the ag industry, said Dr. Dan Kovich, NPPC director of science and technology.
“In addition to dramatic animal health gains and reduced financial risk for farmers, gene editing’s promise includes less need to use antibiotics to care for livestock and reduced environmental impact from more efficient farm operations,” he said in the release.
Scientists can use gene editing to make simple changes in a pig’s native genetic structure without exposing it to genes from a different species. The process is also faster than traditional breeding practices for trait selection.
For example, new applications of gene editing include raising pigs to be resistant to Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome, a highly contagious disease.
Farms.com has reached out to NPPC for comment.
National Pork Board and the Pork Checkoff photo, Des Moines, IA, USA photo