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11th-Hour Deal Strips FDA Oversight of Genetically Modified Animals

This is the latest instance of Trump political appointees overriding the agency's scientists.

The Health and Human Services Department has agreed to an industry-backed plan to effectively strip the FDA of oversight of certain genetically modified animals — the latest instance of Trump political appointees overriding the agency's scientists.

The deal announced Tuesday would shift regulatory authority to the USDA for reviewing the safety of animals produced for food using gene editing. The FDA would maintain oversight of a certain slice of gene edited products not related to agriculture, such as biopharma and gene therapies. The agency would also act in a “consultation” role as USDA develops and carries out its own regulations, per the agreement.

It's a move that would fulfill a long-sought priority for the livestock industry and big businesses on the Trump administration's final full day. Yet it comes after HHS overrode vehement objections from its own FDA, where officials had warned the agreement was illegal and could endanger public health.