Pork producer tells congress oversight of gene-edited livestock should be under USDA


Because of “significant flaws” in the U.S. government’s current approach to regulating animal breeding technologies, Iowa Pork Producers President Dr. Michael Paustian testified before the Senate Agriculture Committee to make the case oversight for this emerging technology should come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture not the Food and Drug Administration.

“Livestock producers need access to these technologies. While countries like China, Canada, Brazil and Argentina are moving quickly to gain a competitive advantage in the market, the U.S. is falling behind,” he said.

Gene editing technology allows for precise changes in the genome of an animal and has shown promise in combating disease while sustainably producing safe food.

FDA oversight currently treats gene-edited animals as a “living animal drug,” making every farm raising them a drug manufacturing facility.

“Under FDA regulation, gene editing faces an impractical, lengthy and expensive approval process, threatening hundreds of thousands of jobs,” the National Pork Producers Council said in a press release.

Paustian made clear he wanted to keep regulations in place, but wanted them to be more practical.

Paustian cited the USDA’s review process for genetic editing in plants as an easily adoptable model for livestock to follow. This, he says, will alow the United States to keep its global edge in agriculture.

“I want to be very clear that we are not advocating for de-regulation of these new technologies,” he said. “Farmers support scientifically sound, transparent, risk-based regulations that ensure that these new tools are effective and safe for both animals and consumers. Our concern is not if this technology should be regulated, but rather by who and under what authority.”