US pork lobby calls for relaxation of gene-editing regulations

The National Pork Producers’ Council in the US has petitioned the US Food and Drug Association (FDA) to relax regulations with regard to gene-editing technology in livestock.

The National Pork Producers’ Council in the US has petitioned the US Food and Drug Association (FDA) to relax regulations with regard to gene-editing technology in livestock.

This followed President Donald Trump’s signing of an executive order to streamline the review process for agricultural technology earlier this month.

According to a statement by the council, it had been hoped that the order would relax how the FDA regulated gene-editing, a technology that could be used to alter the DNA in pigs to make them more resistant to disease.

However, the FDA “inaccurately classifies livestock as drugs and farms as drug-manufacturing facilities”, the statement said.

Responding to the statement, the FDA said it believed that the association’s approach to gene-editing was in line with Trump’s executive order.

The FDA was working to implement the order and sought to avoid any unnecessary barriers to innovation in plant and animal biotechnology. The agency stated that it did not “regulate animals as drugs, but regulates intentional alterations to genomes in animals”.

According to the council, the FDA regulations could lead to a lengthy and expensive process for researchers and companies to gain US approval for gene-edited, which could put that country at risk of falling behind other suppliers such as Canada, Brazil and China.

Gene-editing differed from traditional genetic modification where genes were added from other organisms, as it identified specific genes and then made changes by amending or deleting it.

In this way, genomes could be altered quickly and precisely, and agricultural products that had been altered could get to the market quickly and cheaply, which would be beneficial to farmers, the statement added.

The council therefore sought to have regulation of gene-editing transferred to the US Department of Agriculture rather than being administered by the FDA.

Dan Kulich, deputy director of science and technology at the council, said the FDA needed “to go back to the drawing board” regarding its approach to gene-editing.

The pork industry in the US was currently under a lot of pressure due to diseases such as African swine flu, and experts were looking for ways to ensure the survival of the industry.

Kulich said the pork lobby was working with the Trump administration “to discuss ways to move forward, and frankly make sure that the FDA hears and understands our concerns”.

Share
Published by
Elizabeth Schroeder

Recent Posts

High food price inflation leaves poor consumers in the lurch

Annual food price inflation reached its highest level for the past 18 months in August, with the biggest year-on-year increase…

18 hours ago

Africa’s quiet, but fierce, agri revolution

The well-known saying that change happens slowly at first, and then all at once, is probably a misquote from Ernest…

18 hours ago

Concern as milk production in Australia reaches 22-year low

Milk production in Australia declined 5,7% to 8,8 billion litres in the 2018/2019 season, falling to below the nine-billion litre…

21 hours ago

Entrepreneur empowers Eastern Cape communal sorghum farmers

By developing and establishing partnerships, Luleka Mbete’s business, LM Holdings, has initiated a system that brings sorghum producers in the…

23 hours ago

A century of perfecting apple growing in the Langkloof

The Zondagh family farm apples and pears in the Eastern Cape’s fertile Langkloof Valley. During a media tour to Matt…

2 days ago

Marginal uptick in South Africa’s agribusiness confidence

South Africa’s agribusinesses are slightly more optimistic about current business conditions in South Africa.

2 days ago