A failure to address American gene editing regulations could allow other countries to move ahead of the U.S. in the technology. That’s the word of Allison Van Eenennaam, an extension specialist for the University of California-Davis. She recently told Iowa pork producers there’s “already got a bit of discrepancy in terms of global approaches to regulating this, and we have the potential for breeders in South America, for example, to use this technology and breeders in the US not to be able to.” In the U.S., gene editing, when introduced into livestock, is currently labeled as a “new animal drug” by the Food and Drug Administration, something that doesn’t make sense to Van Eenennaam. “Genetic variation is a common thing in every animal … It’s not a food safety concern,” she said. “So to me if you’ve introduced genetic variation that could have been achieved during conventional breeding, it doesn’t make sense to have a different regulatory pathway.” Instead, she says USDA should handle the regulatory framework for animal use of the technology.

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