Coming Soon to a Grocery Near You: Genetically Engineered Meat

By Eliza Strickland | September 18, 2008 3:54 pm

cowThe Food and Drug Administration proposed rules today to regulate genetically engineered animals that are raised for food or to produce medications. The agency would use its existing authority over animal drugs to regulate genetic engineering, the addition of genes to animals to improve food quality, build disease resistance or produce medicines for humans, the FDA said in a statement. Producers would have to demonstrate that altered animals, if intended for use as food, are safe to eat [Bloomberg].

The step is being viewed as yet another official vote of confidence in the safety of genetically engineered food products. Genetic engineering is already widely used in plants in the United States, where several government agencies oversee its use in agriculture. Crops like corn, cotton, and soybeans have been altered to be more resistant to pests or to endure high doses of weed-killers (like Monsanto’s blockbuster Roundup Ready crops). The FDA has previously said that cloned animals and their offspring are safe to eat and don’t require regulation, although squeamish consumers may put a damper on that market. It remains to be seen if consumers will accept genetically engineered steak and eggs.

The FDA’s proposed approval process for genetically modified animals would be more stringent than the existing process for altered plants, but the rules are still receiving mixed reviews from consumer and environmental groups. “They are talking about pigs that are going to have mouse genes in them, and this is not going to be labeled?” said Jean Halloran, director of food policy for Consumers Union. “We are close to speechless on this.” Nonetheless, Gregory Jaffe, who heads the biotechnology project at the Center for Science in the Public Interest called the FDA action a “good first step” [AP].

While the rules, which have been under consideration for about 15 years, are not likely to surprise the biotech industry, their formal appearance after years of discussion is expected to energize a field whose commercial potential is huge but so far unrealized [Washington Post]. Companies are reportedly already developing pigs, cows, and goats that either produce substances in their bodies that are useful for human medicine, or else improve the yield of meat and milk for farmers. The first animal to go through these regulatory steps would probably be an Atlantic salmon developed by Aqua Bounty Technologies of Waltham, Mass. It contains DNA from another type of salmon and from pout, another ocean fish, that allows the salmon to grow to market weight in 18 months instead of 30 [The New York Times].

Image: flickr/twoblueday

Related Posts: Your Quarter-Pounder Just Might Have Come From a Cloned Cow (Indirectly)
Europe Isn’t Ready for Milk and Meat From Cloned Animals

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Living World
  • Alex Baran

    Wow, I can’t believe they’re going to allow genetically altered food on the market – I read about that here (, and it looks like we may end up eating pork with mouse genes… I wonder what’s next!

  • nadeshiko

    cows with mouse genes. when are we going to learn animals are not things? if you want to do useful research do it on developing genetically modified meat that does not belong to an animal.

  • patrick miller

    Whats next is mutant viruses and mass death, this is nazi eugenics (renamed gentics in the 1950’s) in full force. Good Luck, we are all gonna need it.

  • Jacob Hughes

    eek! this is scary! another reason I’m happy to be a vegetarian

  • sadie

    It is now, more than ever, that we must support
    ethical farmers who only
    raise free-range, heirloom animals.
    demand it!
    Support it!
    the time is now!

  • http://verizon Duane Swindell

    To the Vegetarians , your eating the most genticly Modified Product Produced IE( monsanto) Unless you are Eating Organic and then it is only requried to be 70 % to get the Label. Iam sure this meat will end up in the main stream Grocery stores, Pay more and go to the all natural stores and get MORE.

  • Char

    This is all about profits, greed and money…at our expense, Genetic engineering is a very lucrative market for Corporate Agricultural companies
    they are taking over as well as keeping us in the dark and lying to
    us as well. They also have the FDA and USDA in their pockets. The ‘Old Farm’ does not exist anymore, it’s “Factories” and if the little local farmer won’t go along with them, I’m sure he’ll be out of business in no time. We’ll all be sick and dropping like flies. Besides no Medical Insurance company will even want to cover us then!! Go see the movie..
    ‘Food Inc.’ As consumers, we must make war, and stand up to these “Giants”.

  • joga warszawa

    Hello. Do not know if I can agree with that.

  • joga

    @patrick miller
    I completly agree with you. Very nice comment.


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