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Will US Consumers Eat Up GM Meat Rule?

by the Fish Site Editor
26 January 2009, at 12:00am

US - On January 15, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration decided how it will regulate genetically engineered animals, for the first time paving the way for such animals or their products to be sold as food and medicine.

A wide range of interested parties, including companies developing genetically engineered animals and consumer protection groups, are generally comfortable with the FDA decision, writes Jill U. Adams of the Los Angeles Times. And yet, consumer acceptance of transgenic animals, particularly as food products, is still an unknown.

According to the Los Angeles Times report, American consumers have been eating food from genetically engineered crops, such as corn, soybeans and canola, for a decade. However, transgenic animals have not been sold, pending the FDA deliberations on how to regulate them.

Genetic engineering is a high-tech way to "breed" desirable traits into livestock. The benefits might be for the producer, such as a disease-resistant cow or an easy-to-raise salmon. It might be for the environment -- pigs that produce milder manure, for example -- or for the consumer, say, more nutritious meat.

The old-fashioned way of breeding farmed animals requires selecting offspring with desired traits over successive generations. Ron Stotish, chief executive of Aqua Bounty Technologies in Waltham, Mass., says the power of genetic engineering is that the same end is achieved in "one fell swoop." Transgenic animals also can be fitted with traits they probably would never develop naturally, as in the case of omega-3-producing pigs.

Further Reading

- For more information, view TheFishSite report: Brave New Farm: GE Food Animals in the USA report, by clicking here.

the Fish Site Editor