Scientists Are Fleeing America’s Rules About Gene-Editing Animals

scientists fleeing america gene editing animals

Jumping Ship

Some scientists are moving their labs out of the U.S. to countries with fewer restrictions on their work, according to the Genetic Literacy Project.

The heart of the issue stems from a 2017 proposal by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate animals with “intentionally-altered” DNA as though they were veterinary drugs. That would impose stricter restrictions on scientists who alter the genomes of livestock — meaning American universities could miss out on new scientific developments.

Shifting Focus

Experts like University of California Davis animal biotechnologist Alison Van Eenennaam argue that the new regulations are paying attention to the wrong thing, according to the GLP. Instead of evaluating whether an animal is still food safe, Van Eenennaam argues that the FDA regulations will arbitrarily stymie scientific progress.

“Myself and fellow academic researchers reject the idea that intentional genomic DNA alterations should be regulated as a veterinary drug in food animals,” Van Eenennaam told the GLP, “and consider that the proposed approach will thwart the development of genetic approaches by public sector researchers and small companies to use gene editing to solve zoonotic disease and animal welfare problems in the United States.”

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