Green Flash Newsletter
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       While most of us were worried about genetically modified crops, genetically engineered animals snuck up on us. They are now just a step away from your dinner plate and many manufacturers’ supply chains.

       Similar to GM crops, GE animals contain recombinant DNA that gives them novel characteristics. (GE animals are completely different from clones which are simply copies of “conventional” animals.) Companies have developed pigs that produce pork chops with Omega-3 levels equal to fish, salmon that grows much faster than normal, and cows that are resistant to Mad Cow disease.

       This fall, the FDA issued draft guidelines for regulating GE animals and opened a public comment period. Boy did they get comments! Advocates of GE point out that the animals can help the environment (pigs with less phosphorus in their manure anyone?), improve nutrition, increase raw material produced per animal, and prevent horrible diseases. Those opposed note that the FDA’s process for assessing GE animals’ safety is highly secretive, it is impossible to “unbreed” animals if a GE animal escapes and “mingles” with other animals, and the FDA does not plan to require special labeling on GE meat. That means that while 95% of consumers want genetically engineered animal products clearly labeled, next year we could all be eating Frankensteaks without knowing it. That doesn’t sound so special.

We should think about...
  • Should we have a GE animal policy for our company? Even if we’re not in the food business, there are lots of other products that could be made from GE animals.
  • How will our consumers feel about GE animal products---both food and non-food?
  • Should we get involved in the public debate? There is still a possibility that the legislature will weigh in on GE animal regulation.
Sources:; Green Muse 2008; New York Times 2008; 2008; Wall Street Journal 2008
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