Shifting Biotech Oversight to Boost Pork Innovation

Apr 09, 2024


The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has expressed concerns and recommendations regarding livestock biotechnology oversight, following an online survey conducted by the National Security Commission on Emerging Biotechnology (NSCEB), indicating a potential regulatory shift. 

Currently, the U.S.  Food and Drug Administration (FDA) holds the reins on regulating livestock biotechnology. This setup has not been without its issues, as the FDA, traditionally not specialized in livestock, faces challenges such as lengthy approval processes, narrow approval scopes, and high costs associated with biotechnology advancements.   

For example, the process for one company to get approval for genetically engineered swine was both time-consuming and costly, taking three years and $300,000 for just five pigs. 

The NPPC argues that the U.S.  Department of Agriculture (USDA), with its robust oversight on plant genetics and extensive knowledge of the livestock industry, would be a better fit for regulating biotechnology under existing acts like the Animal Health Protection Act, the Federal Meat Inspection Act, and the Poultry Products Inspection Act.  

This suggestion comes from a place of looking forward, as the pork industry recognizes the immense potential of biotechnology. Innovations in this field could significantly enhance animal health, tackling diseases like the porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS), and contribute to the industry's goals of improving animal well-being, responsible antibiotic use, and environmental sustainability.  

The NPPC’s push for change is more than a regulatory debate; it's about making the way for a future where biotechnology can play a crucial role in the sustainable and humane production of pork.   

As discussions continue, the potential shift of regulatory authority to the USDA marks a hopeful step towards fostering innovation, development, and adoption of biotechnology in food animal production, ensuring a brighter, healthier future for pork industry stakeholders and consumers alike. 

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