Task force will develop recommendations for gene editing in animal agriculture

The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities have convened a task force that will focus on gene editing in animal agriculture. The 11-person panel includes scientists and industry leaders who will outline recommendations for regulating emerging genomic technology in animal agriculture with appropriate safeguards and procedures.

The announcement follows a symposium last September in which experts from academia, government and industry discussed the subject and related ethical issues. They agreed that while work with animal and plant genomes has potential to limit disease and increase productivity, regulation needs to be carefully structured. Currently the FDA regulates genetic work on food animals as an animal drug, and the USDA regulates genetic work with crops.

“This is a very promising area of biotechnology that has the potential to unleash enormous progress in terms of food production and security,” said Dr. Noelle Cockett, president of Utah State University and the lead on the task force. “Last fall’s symposium featured a series of presentations and discussions which identified and explored important questions and implications related to this emerging technology. These need to be thoughtfully considered and transformed into policy and regulatory recommendations. That’s the goal of the task force.”

The group is expected to hold its first virtual meeting in June 2020, and in-person meetings will be held when public health guidelines allow. For more information, visit the AAVMC’s website.