Animal drug bill weakens regulation for GE food animals

Legislation intended to improve farmers’ access to animal drugs would have the unintended effect of undercutting the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval process for genetically engineered (GE) animals. That bill was criticized today by leading health, consumer, and environmental groups, who fear that transgenic animals, like fast-growing salmon, would be marketed without undergoing a thorough government review. FDA is planning to regulate GE animals by applying its existing authority to regulate animal drugs.

Today, representatives of the groups wrote all U.S. Senators about the potential food-safety and environmental concerns presented by transgenic animals.

“The application of genetic engineering in plant agriculture has already proven controversial ... and the commercialization of transgenic animals will almost certainly draw more public concern than plants such as soybeans,” wrote the groups. The signers included officials of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Consumer Federation of America, Environmental Defense, and others.

The legislation at issue is S. 741, the Minor Use and Minor Species Animal Health Act, sponsored by Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL). Consumer and environmental groups say the bill should either be opposed or amended to exclude transgenic animals.

“Whether intentional or not, the proposed legislation would fast track transgenic animals and handcuff FDA from ensuring safety before those animals hit the marketplace,” said Gregory Jaffe, director of CSPI’s biotechnology project.