Move over, common sense. Here comes FDA with their latest display of bad judgment.
The Food and Drug Administration issued on January 15 a final guidance on regulating genetically engineered (GE) animals, which pretty much gives producers the go-ahead to make them a reality. The process is already being laid out, companies will have to apply to FDA as if GE animals were new animal drugs before being allowed to put the livestock on the market. So where‚ the nonsensical part? There‚ the fact that the long-term health effects for both the animals themselves and the humans who consume them are still largely unknown. And that the agency is considering approving transgenic animals without requiring them to be labeled. But it goes even further, believe it or not.
FDA tried, in their own defense, to convince consumer groups of a new “benefit” of GE animals, one that they hadn’t mentioned before. (Previously their standard two arguments were that GE fish can grow faster than normal, and therefore alleviate overfishing, and that GE pigs will produce manure that pollutes less.) This time, agency officials used the example of engineering a cow that is resistant to mastitis, an udder infection. Sounds great, no? Well, wouldn’t it make more sense to just avoid giving cows the artificial hormone that can cause mastitis as a side effect?
The other stock examples used to defend GE animals are similarly easy to break down. GE fish, for instance, are meant to bring down the level of overfishing, due to their larger size compared to non-transgenic fish. However, consider the existing dangers of open ocean aquaculture. Some percentage of the confined fish do escape from their pens. Now add in the possibility of the escapees being GE fish, and mixing with wild fish. The dangers to the environment and wild species could be markedly severe.
- Sofía Baliño