Center for Food Safety
The following content was created by the Center for Food Safety and is republished here to help promote their work.
The Trump administration made a last ditch effort to move genetically engineered (GE) livestock regulations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) responsibility just before their term ended. When FDA officials balked, former USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue went over their heads and signed an agreement with the head of Health and Human Services to move the review of most GE animals to USDA anyway.
While FDA regulations need to be improved, USDA’s are worse because USDA wants to stop the regulation of new kinds of GE animals, entirely. Some former USDA officials argue that new gene editing techniques — like CRISPR, TALENS, and zinc fingers — are just like conventional breeding. However, they are not at all like that.
Gene editing, which can be used to genetically engineer animals, often has “off target” effects wherein the DNA of different parts of the genome are edited in unintended ways. How the production of these GE animals impacts the health of these animals, the people who eat them, and the environment needs to be fully reviewed before these animals can be put on the market.
Under the newly proposed plan, USDA would not even require companies to show the entire genomic sequence of the animal before approving them. The many GE pigs and cows waiting for review would just get automatically approved without an adequate review of how they were produced. There wouldn’t even be a label on it in the grocery store to inform shoppers like you and me that it was produced with genetic engineering in the first place.
We can’t let automatic approvals of GE animals become the new normal.