If the biotech industry has its way, the meat, eggs and milk on your plate could soon come from genetically engineered farm animals—and without laws requiring these products to be labeled, you’ll never know.
Just a few years ago the idea of genetically engineered farm animals seemed like science fiction to most consumers. But it’s a sign of how powerful the industry has become, and how quickly the science is advancing, that we’ve reached the stage where regulators are having to draft new regulations to deal with the influx new applications.
Behind the scenes there have been squabbles over not just what the regulations will say, but which government department should take the lead.
Meanwhile, “pharm” animals—animals genetically engineered to produce drugs—have been around for more than two decades. But the first genetically engineered animal for human consumption—GMO salmon—was only recently approved. More are on the way, at an alarming pace, and without adequate testing and consideration for the impact these GMO foods will have on human health and the environment, much less on the animals themselves.
In her article this week, Pat Thomas asks if the sense of urgency around approving new GMOs is real, or manufactured? She wonders whether, given how much there is still to learn, a slower and more nuanced conversation—combined with a moratorium on gene-edited livestock—might shine much needed light on some important issues and produce a better outcome for the animals and for consumers.