The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has launched a new campaign to highlight the importance of establishing a proper regulatory framework for gene editing in American livestock. The “Keep America First in Agriculture” campaign was officially kicked off Tuesday with a media teleconference featuring leading researchers, veterinarians, producers and industry experts.
“Gene editing is a huge step forward for America’s farmers, as it offers a powerful new way to combat animal disease,” said Dr. Dan Kovich, NPPC’s director of Science & Technology. “With gene editing, livestock breeders can knock out specific genes that make animals vulnerable to viral infections. Healthier animals benefit both farmers and consumers.”
While countries like Canada, Brazil and Argentina are moving quickly on this advancement to gain competitive advantage in the market, the U.S. is running the risk of falling far behind as a result of a regulatory seize by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Under FDA regulation, gene editing faces an impractical, lengthy and expensive approval process, threatening hundreds of thousands of jobs and nearly six percent of U.S. Gross Domestic Product.
Additionally, the FDA’s regulation inaccurately classifies livestock as drugs and farms as drug-manufacturing facilities, creating significant challenges for the international trade in animals and animal products.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the only agency prepared to effectively regulate this new technology. It already has a review process in place for genetic editing in plants under its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which can easily be adopted for livestock. The USDA also has the understanding and history of working directly with livestock and agriculture, unlike the FDA, which regulates packaged food, drugs and medical devices.
Listen to opening remarks from the press conference with Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, Animal Biotechnology and Genomics Extension Specialist, University of California, Davis; Dr. Kovich; Andrew Bailey, NPPC Lead Counsel for Science and Technology; and Dr. Bradley Wolter, a leading pork producer and President of The Maschhoffs.