Farmscape for January 18, 2021
The National Pork Producers Council is voicing its support for a proposal that would see the U.S. Department of Agriculture assume primary regulatory jurisdiction over the development of gene-edited livestock.
Gene-editing allows specific changes within an animal’s genome offering the potential to produce more disease-resistant animals that require fewer antibiotics and with a smaller environmental footprint.
Andrew Bailey, the Science and Technology Legal Counsel with the National Pork Producers Council, says the United States has been lagging behind other parts of the world in developing this technology.
Clip-Andrew Bailey-National Pork Producers Council:
Many other countries, be they our nearest neighbour Canada or Brazil, Argentina, even China are moving forward with this technology.
Some of them are just adapting their novel foods regulations to cover this.
Some of them have created stand alone very modern biotech legislation over the past few years.
But pretty much all of them are moving forward in a way that really facilitates this sort of research and innovation and the science of gene-editing.
What we've been doing here unfortunately is trying to approach gene editing from the drug paradigm.
That's not a model that's been adopted anywhere else in the world and it creates a host of problems both practical and legal when it comes to trying to develop this technology.
One thing it's done is it's actually driven a decent amount of research dollars and research jobs to other countries where there's actually a promise that, if you went through all of the work, you might actually be able to bring a product to market.
That's why we're very supportive of this proposed rule because it really starts us on the path of catching up.
It's not going to change tomorrow but, through this public process, the rule making process, we're quite confident that we can get to a spot where we have a science based, practical regulatory mechanism in place and the U.S. can do what it does great, which is innovate in agriculture.
Bailey notes the USDA has plenty of experience regulating the livestock sector and is already overseeing gene-editing on the plant side so it's well positioned to take charge of gene-editing in livestock.
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