Posts Tagged: GMO
In the story, a UC Agriculture and Natural Resources expert expressed disappointment in the company's plan to market mini pigs as pets. Alison Van Eenennaam, UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Animal Science at UC Davis, said the company's decision reflects the "global regulatory gridlock" around genetically engineered food animals.
"Genome editing is a powerful technology that can be used for many beneficial applications … such as producing disease-resistant animals and other things that would have real benefits for the sustainability of food production," she said.
Americans seem to be open to genetically engineered pets. A glowing fish created in Singapore by inserting jellyfish and sea anemone genes into zebrafish eggs has been accepted by many U.S. consumers.
"People are happy to have them in their aquarium, but it's when it's on their dinner plat that they have a different attitude," Van Eenennaam said.
Scientists used different processes in creating glowing fish and miniature swine. With the fish, genes from other organisms were inserted into the DNA. The mini pigs were made by cutting tidbits of DNA out of the pig genome. According to the article, Van Eenennaam believes gene editing animals is no different from traditional selective breeding. Furthermore, she said the FDA's unwillingness to approved genetically engineered food animals is impeding the technology. Companies are deterred from investing in research by the uncertainty.
"(There's too much financial risk) if you go to all the effort of making an animal and it's unclear whether you're going to be able to market it," Van Eenennaam said.
The review study also found that scientific studies have detected no differences in the nutritional makeup of the meat, milk or other food products derived from animals that ate genetically engineered feed.
The review, led by Alison Van Eenennaam, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Animal Science at UC Davis, examined nearly 30 years of livestock-feeding studies that represent more than 100 billion animals.
Titled “Prevalence and Impacts of Genetically Engineered Feedstuffs on Livestock Populations,” the review article is now available online in open-access form through the American Society of Animal Science. It will appear in print and open-access in the October issue of the Journal of Animal Science.
Genetically engineered crops were first introduced in 1996. Today, 19 genetically engineered plant species are approved for use in the United States, including the major crops used extensively in animal feed: alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, soybean and sugar beet.
Food-producing animals such as cows, pigs, goats, chickens and other poultry species now consume 70 to 90 percent of all genetically engineered crops, according to the new UC Davis review. In the United States, alone, 9 billion food-producing animals are produced annually, with 95 percent of them consuming feed that contains genetically engineered ingredients.
“Studies have continually shown that the milk, meat and eggs derived from animals that have consumed GE feed are indistinguishable from the products derived from animals fed a non-GE diet,” Van Eenennaam said. “Therefore, proposed labeling of animal products from livestock and poultry that have eaten GE feed would require supply-chain segregation and traceability, as the products themselves would not differ in any way that could be detected.”
Now that a second generation of genetically engineered crops that have been optimized for livestock feed is on the horizon, there is a pressing need to internationally harmonize the regulatory framework for these products, she said.
“To avoid international trade disruptions, it is critical that the regulatory approval process for genetically engineered products be established in countries importing these feeds at the same time that regulatory approvals are passed in the countries that are major exporters of animal feed,” Van Eenennaam said.
Collaborating on the study was co-author Amy E. Young in the UC Davis Department of Animal Science.
The review study was supported by funds from the W.K. Kellogg endowment and the California Agricultural Experiment Station of UC Davis.
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- Alison Van Eenennaam, Department of Animal Science, (530) 902-0875, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Pat Bailey, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9843, email@example.com
I had been planning to write a blog about crop biotechnology/GMOs for quite some time. It was going...
Dubcovsky commented in The Scientist article about his work in using biotechnology to instill resistance to a devastating plant disease, stripe rust, in wheat.
“Wheat is a very important cereal,” says Ravi Singh of Irrigated Bread Wheat Improvement and Rust Research in Mexico. “Twenty percent of [humans'] calories and about the same [percent of] protein are coming from wheat.”
Genetic engineering is a way to breed long-lasting stem rust–resistant wheat varieties and boost wheat yields around the world. But genetically modified foods are being kept off the market by public opposition and regulatory expenses.
The Scientist article, written by Kerry Grens, said a few groups are forging ahead, including Dubcovsky and other researchers who are cloning stripe rust-resistance genes from wheat and other taxa and identify their functions. For more on Dubcovsky's work, see UC researchers improve wheat nutrition and yield.
The article reviewed the case of Enviropig, which was modified to produce lower levels of phosphorus in its manure, an environmental benefit because phosphorus can leach into groundwater beneath pig farms. The transgene also eliminates the cost of adding phosphorus to the animals' feed. Anti-GMO activists voiced loud opposition.
"They really targeted it and made it a bad thing," said Alison Van Eenennaam, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Animal Science at UC Davis.
James Murray, professor in the UCD Animal Science Department, has used genetic modification to develop goats whose milk contains an antibacterial protein found in human breast milk that could help treat childhood diarrhea.
“Who would have thought when we started [manipulating animal genomes] in the early 1980s that at this point we would have no animals approved?" Murry said. “It's been over 30 years. I made my first transgenic sheep in 1985. We were all making [GM] mice before that, with an eye toward agriculture.”
Akst used the case of the AquAdvantage salmon as an object lesson about resistance to GMO animals. AquAdvantage salmon contain a gene from an eel-like ocean pout. It grows twice as fast on 25 percent less food compared to wild salmon. Despite safeguards its makers have in place to keep the GM fish away from their wild cousins - farming them in inland tanks, raising only sterile female fish - the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been holding off on approval for years.
“Fifteen or 20 years in, $70 million down the drain, and no decision,” Murray said. “Who wants to invest in the next transgenic animal product?”