Cows without horns, pigs without tails, and business without regulations?

Recombinetics, a gene editing company, and its partners have created black-and-white Holstein dairy cattle with no horns and male pigs that cannot complete their sexual development, yielding younger and more delicious pork chops.

Despite the ability to do so, further development is at a standstill. The US Food and Drug Administration contends that it regulates editing to animals’ DNA as if the edits were drugs, so that Recombinetics’ methods must be submitted and approved with substantial safety tests.

Recombinetics claims that the FDA makes no sense, arguing that hornless cattle made with DNA editing are genetically identical to what farmers obtain by crossbreeding dairy cows with naturally hornless cattle. Industry representatives are petitioning the government of President Donald Trump to resolve their issue by transplanting accountability for the animals from the FDA to the US Department of Agriculture. The USDA has already approved gene-edited plants to be planted and sold without regulation.

The biotech companies want modified meat production to receive the same management, and they have a point. If food producers can sell gene-edited vegetables without a flood of safety tests, why not gene-edited beef?

Read more: MIT Tech Review

Image: PhillipT / CC0-1.0 – Cow in field

This story is taken from the 16 March 2018 edition of The Warren Centre’s Prototype newsletter. Sign up for the Prototype here.