DNA Technology

Industry Groups Encourage USDA Takeover of Gene Editing Regulations

Brian GermanDairy & Livestock, Regulation

gene editing regulations

Nearly a dozen agricultural organizations are continuing to encourage the revising of gene editing regulations. Oversight of genetically engineered food animals is currently handled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Ag groups are pushing for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to assume responsibility of animal biotechnology. In a letter addressed to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the organizations point out the necessity in updating the regulatory approach to gene editing in livestock.

“The FDA’s current regulatory approach – an approach that producers, other stakeholders, and Congress have repeatedly expressed concern with – will only stifle U.S. producers’ access to much-needed innovations,” the letter states. “Academics, developers, and investors are unlikely to make the significant investments needed to research and develop agricultural innovations if they do not have clear, predictable criteria to achieve enforcement discretion and reasonable market access.”

Signatories of the letter include the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Milk Producers Federation, American Farm Bureau Federation, and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. The groups assert that changes to gene editing regulations are needed to better combat a variety of issues including diseases and challenges related to climate change. USDA has been working to advance a framework to establish a more modernized approach to regulating gene editing technologies in animal agriculture. The groups expressed support for USDA efforts in advancing the proposed rulemaking for the Regulation of Movement of Animals Modified or Developed by Genetic Engineering.

“Gene editing technology offers livestock producers the opportunity to address the serious sustainability, animal health, and food security challenges facing our food supply in the 21st century,” the groups note in the letter. “However, this potential can only be achieved if we have federal policies that are risk-and science-based, and that permit the meaningful adoption of these products by producers, supply chains, and consumers.”

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West