From: , Organic Consumers Association, More from this Affiliate
Published September 3, 2008 09:55 AM

Genetically Engineered Pig or Cow for Dinner?

From: GM Watch (EU) August 29, 2008

1.USDA Seeks to Segregate Modified Livestock
2.The genetic engineer's garbage can: the U.S. food supply

NOTE: Just as with crops, segregation is a non-starter, with experimental GM animals already having ended up in the food chain - see item 2 --- --- 1.USDA Seeks to Segregate Modified Livestock By BILL TOMSON Wall Street Journal, August 29 2008 http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121997565847182283.html?mod=special_page_campaign2008_leftbox

The U.S. Agriculture Department wants to keep genetically modified animals from mixing with traditional livestock, saying the potential risks are unclear.

The USDA said it is considering the need to regulate the movement -- including the importation, containment and field release -- of genetically engineered animals to ensure that the genetically engineered traits don't present a health risk to traditional cattle, pigs and other livestock.

Biotechnology research and development have resulted in genetically engineered animals and animal products that are ready for commercialization, the department says. So far, no products derived from genetically engineered animals have been approved for human use, although the Food and Drug Administration has approved the safety of meat from cloned cattle.

The USDA, in a posting on the U.S. General Services Administration Web site, said that although genetic modification of livestock "may provide significant agricultural, human [and] animal health, and societal benefits, there are also potential risks, concerns, and environmental impacts associated with the technology that may require Federal oversight."

Barbara Glenn, managing director of animal biotechnology at the Biotechnology Industry Organization, a trade group, welcomed plans for governmental oversight.

"We need that guidance to be published so that we can move forward with the industry [and] have investor confidence," Ms. Glenn said.

The trade group says it expects genetic modifications will make animals healthy and improve them as a source of food. They could also produce vaccines to treat illnesses, the group said in a recent report.

Write to Bill Tomson at bill.tomson@dowjones.com --- --- 2.The genetic engineer's garbage can: the U.S. food supply GM Watch, 2005 http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=5728

When nearly 400 pigs used in U.S. biotech research apparently entered the food supply, the FDA said "it could not verify the researchers' claim [that the pigs weren't dangerous] because they failed to keep enough records..." (US biotech researchers careless with 386 pigs - FDA, full story below)

Here are some more missing GM pigs from the same report:

"One year ago, several genetically altered pigs ended up in Canadian poultry feed. Researchers at the University of Guelph in southern Ontario discovered 11 dead piglets were mistakenly sent to a rendering plant and ground into poultry feed."

The year before that we had:

"Tainted pork from genetically altered pigs stolen from the University of Florida showed up in sausage served at a funeral in High Springs, university police said.

The stolen pigs were genetically engineered to develop a disorder similar to diabetic blindness in humans. University officials do not know what effect, if any, the treated meat could have on people who eat it.

The pig incident is one in a series of missteps at the university's Animal Resources department which oversees the treatment of biomedical research animals." (Tainted pigs show up in sausage at funeral

DATELINE: GAINESVILLE, Fla. The Associated Press, June 3, 2001)

Pigs themselves were also put at risk by a lab break out a year later:

"WASHINGTON -- Federal authorities are investigating the disappearance of genetically altered bacteria fatal to pigs that appear to have been stolen from a research laboratory at Michigan State University.

Investigators said that while the bacteria apparently are harmless to humans, they could devastate the pork industry if replicated and released, and they are treating the case as a potential terrorist threat." (Authorities Probe Case Of Missing Bacteria THE WALL STREET JOURNAL) http://online.wsj.com/article_print/0,,SB1032390712851591555,00.html

And then of course that same year there was:  

Alarm as GM pig vaccine taints US crops Strict new guidelines planned after contamination Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington The Guardian, December 24 2002    http://www.guardian.co.uk/gmdebate/Story/0,2763,865030,00.html *** The full story: US biotech researchers careless with 386 pigs - FDA Source - Reuters Commodities News (Eng) Thursday, February 6 2003  http://ngin.tripod.com/060203a.htm

WASHINGTON, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Nearly 400 pigs used in U.S. bioengineering research may have entered the food supply because they were sold to a livestock dealer instead of being destroyed, the Food and Drug Administration said on Wednesday.

But the FDA said the pigs did not pose a public health risk.

Between April 2001 and January 2003, researchers at the University of Illinois in Urbana/Champaign released 386 pigs from biotech studies to a livestock dealer, the agency said.

Under the study requirements set by the FDA, the pigs should have been incinerated or sent to a rendering plant for disposal.

"The researchers claim that these pigs, which were the offspring of transgenic animals, did not inherit the inserted genetic material from their parents -- that is, they were not themselves transgenic," the FDA said in a statement.

The agency said it could not verify the researchers' claim because they failed to keep enough records to assess whether the baby pigs inherited the added genetic material

The pigs were part of a study in which genes were engineered so that proteins would be produced primarily in the milk-producing glands of female pigs. The agency did not elaborate on the purpose of the experiment.

"None of the pigs sent to slaughter are believed to have been old enough to lactate," the FDA said. That means any meat or other products derived from the animal should not be harmful to humans it added.

The FDA did not identify the livestock dealer which took ownership of the research pigs.

The agency said it was continuing to investigate the incident in collaboration with the U.S. Agriculture Department.

The researchers' failure to destroy the pigs is a "serious violation" of FDA rules, the agency added.

Various U.S. researchers have been experimenting with genetic engineering of pigs to produce such things as proteins to treat human hemophilia and blood-clotting diseases. Other studies have focused on how to insert a gene that will produce leaner pork for consumption or more environmentally-friendly pig manure.

One year ago, several genetically altered pigs ended up in Canadian poultry feed. Researchers at the University of Guelph in southern Ontario discovered 11 dead piglets were mistakenly sent to a rendering plant and ground into poultry feed.

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