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(Article Summarized by Meridian Institute) According to this article, officials in the gene editing industry are trying to get the Trump administration to shift responsibility for gene edited animals from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The reason? The USDA has already decided that gene-edited plants (in which a plant’s own DNA is tweaked, but no foreign DNA is introduced) can be planted and sold without regulation. The biotech firms that gene edit animals want the same treatment. Currently, the FDA regulates such edits in animals as if they are drugs and demands substantial safety tests. Recombinetics, a biotech company that has used gene editing to make dairy cows with no horns and male pigs that never reach sexual maturity, says the FDA regulations make no sense. The industry says they want each animal judged on its inherent risk, not how it was made: regulate “the product, not the process,” they argue. But according to the FDA, genetic tinkering is “intended to affect the structure [or] function” of an animal.” As such, it is just like any veterinary drug. Because it seems unlikely Congress will revise the regulations covering gene editing, Recombinetics and industry lobbyists are hoping to get Trump to sign their products over to the USDA. “Under Trump, this is the one flickering chance of getting it changed. This is the one chance to make a broad impact,” says Cassie Edgar, a biotech regulatory lawyer at McKee, Voorhees & Sease. Whatever the U.S. eventually decides to do with biotech animals, this article says, will have global repercussions, as beef and other farm products are traded internationally. Consumer groups and those opposed to GMOs have already said they will fight any weakening of the animal regulations.

Posted March 12th, 2018