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U.S. falling behind in race to adopt key farm technology

National Pork Producers

The National Pork Producers Council called out the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, saying the agency, by claiming regulatory jurisdiction over gene edited livestock for the past two years, has stalled the development of emerging technology with tremendous promise for livestock agriculture.

Howard "A.V." Roth

Areas of technology that the U.S. is in danger of falling behind its global competitors include improved animal care, production efficiency and environmental impact.

Today, the scientists who invented one of the most promising forms of this technology – the “CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors” – were awarded the Nobel Prize.

“The National Pork Producers Council has repeatedly called for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to be granted regulatory oversight of gene edited livestock. The USDA has the right experience and an established regulatory framework for gene edited plants that can easily be extended to livestock," said Howard “A.V.” Roth, president of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and a hog farmer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin. “The FDA’s regulatory land grab has caused American agriculture to fall behind in the global race to develop this technology as countries, such as China, continue to advance its development."

Roth says the FDA’s proposed regulatory framework is unjustifiably cumbersome, slow and prohibitively expensive.

"Today’s Nobel Prize award serves notice: If we don’t move oversight of gene edited livestock to the USDA, we will have ceded this promising technology to global competitors at the expense of American jobs and our nation’s global agricultural leadership position,” he said. 

The NPPC notes that gene editing accelerates genetic improvement that would occur naturally over time by making changes to an animal’s own genome.