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Agricultural News


What's Drugs Got to Do With It? Misconceptions Keeping Gene Editing from Revolutionizing Animal Agriculture

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 20:48:04 CST

What's Drugs Got to Do With It? Misconceptions Keeping Gene Editing from Revolutionizing Animal Agriculture


Dr. Alison Van Eenanaam of the University of California Davis, is a world leader in animal genetics and biotechnology. Especially in the art of gene editing. She discussed the potential advancements this cutting-edge method of breeding could bring to the agriculture industry with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays, recently. According to her, the science is precise and incredibly useful, but a lack of understanding has hindered a wider acceptance of the technology by the general public and regulatory authorities.


“Gene editing, simply put, is just a very precise way to make targeted alterations in DNA,” she said. “It’s different from traditional GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, where you tended to be bringing in maybe a piece of DNA from a different species to give plants resistance to herbicides or whatever.”


With gene editing, Van Eenanaam explains, scientists simply manipulate DNA within an organism, without bringing in any outside DNA from a different organism. Under the microscope, she says the changes made are indistinguishable as a result of human intervention or nature’s mutation. The list of possible genetic improvements in plants and animals is endless. Things like disease resistant pigs, hornless cattle with improved meat quality and non-browning fruit are now all possible. However, Van Eenanaam regrets that regulatory hurdles stand in the way of broader acceptance and freedom with this innovation.


“Proposed draft guidance from the FDA in terms of how it’s going to be regulated is proposing that all intentional alterations are going to be regulated as drugs,” Van Eenanaam said. “That’s just bizarre. If you use this technology, the resulting animal is going to be a drug? That doesn’t really make sense because it’s really just animal breeding.”


Van Eenanaam explained that the way in which the regulation is written currently, is more ideologically based rather than on the product’s risk and safety where she argues regulations should be focused - not on the breeding method used to create the product.


Listen to Van Eenanaam and Hays discuss the potential of gene editing technology in agriculture and the misconceptions surrounding it, on today’s Beef Buzz.


The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.


   



   

Hear Van Eenanaam and Hays discuss the potential of gene editing technology in agriculture, below.
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