Genetically engineered (GE) animals are being produced by corporate scientists using biotechnology purporting to generate novel proteins and chemicals for rapid growth, better nutrition or pharmaceutical drugs – all of which are intended for mass production via cloning. Research has been done to silence the “mothering gene” in laying hens, and make pig waste more “palatable.” The message is clear: instead of addressing and changing the unhealthy, inhumane conditions of the nation’s factory farms, agribusiness is redesigning animals to fit an industrial mold with few government safeguards to protect the public and the animals used for our food supply.
GE animals incorporate genes from other animals, bacteria, fungi and even humans. According to the Biotechnology Industry Organization, some 20 GE animals are in the process of being approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As with other GE creations, the technology is moving much faster than our regulatory agencies. The first GE animal, a goat engineered to produce a pharmaceutical drug in its milk, was approved in 2009 with no public comment period. Right now, there is one GE animal approved for human consumption - a GE salmon.
Given FDA’s track record, chances are food from GE animals won’t be labeled, keeping consumers in the dark about what they are buying and eating. Many are also concerned about the ethical and animal welfare implications of genetically engineering animals. Few GE animals survive the engineering process, and those that do often suffer from high rates of deformities due to the imprecise nature of genetic engineering.
Center for Food Safety promotes responsible treatment of food animals and livestock production methods that support biodiversity, human and animal health, and small- and medium-sized farming operations. We urge further studies to assess long-term risks and environmental threats associated with GE animals and a moratorium on their release into the food supply until and unless these studies have been completed adequately and the products are proven safe. Finally, if GE animals are allowed into the food supply, they must be labeled in order to ensure public awareness, consumer choice, and the tracking of potential health effects.