CSPI on Genetically Engineered Piglets
Statement of CSPI Biotechnology Director Gregory Jaffe
February 6, 2003
Although FDA has stated that the transgenic pigs from the University of Illinois/Urbana/ Champaign posed no risk to public health, this incident confirms that the current regulatory system is not adequately ensuring the safety of the food supply. Once again, the biotechnology industry and the government played russian roulette with the public and this time results are not harmful, but if these incidents keep occuring, the next time could be different.
This incident, as well as the recent Prodigene and StarLink incidents, confirm a practice by the biotechnology industry to ignore governmental restrictions and oversight. They also portray a governmental regulatory system desperately trying to play “catch up” with this fast-moving technology.
The current regulatory system for biotechnology is in dire need of overhaul. It is clear that antiquated statutes passed by Congress long before this technology existed, do not provide agencies such as FDA with the tools needed to oversee and regulate transgenic products.
The enormous promise of agricultural biotechnology will not be realized unless robust and sensible regulatory systems ensure the safety of products in an open and transparent manner. The message to consumers from this incident is that the current regulatory system is far from achieving that goal.