CRISPR gene-editing technology is being increasingly used in the development of meat products, but critics raise concerns over corporate control of the food supply.
“Just Like Regular Pork”
Former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, recently spoke out against claims that gene-edited meats developed through tools such as CRISPR could serve as a solution to increasing global food demand.
Robinson stated that the problem with hunger is poverty, infrastructure failure, inequality, and conflict in certain regions, not a shortage of food.
She argued that major corporate interests drive the use of CRISPR for the development of gene-edited food products, and expressed concerns about increasing corporate control of the food supply.
Corteva Agriscience, a conglomerate formed via the merger of Dow AgroSciences and DuPont/Pioneer, owns many CRISPR patents.
However, the company is not the only one developing gene-edited meat products. In March 2022, the FDA approved the entry of Acceligen’s “slick-haired cattle,” which are gene-edited to grow coats that increase their resilience to higher temperatures, into the food supply.
FDA’s “Investigational” Approval
According to the FDA, this is the agency’s “first low-risk determination for enforcement discretion for an IGA in an animal for food use.”
The approval is expected to encourage other developers to bring animal biotechnology products forward for the FDA’s risk determination.
The FDA has also recently granted full approval to gene-edited meat products for human consumption.
In December 2020, the FDA approved “GalSafe pigs,” which had undergone intentional genomic alteration to eliminate alpha-gal sugar on the surface of their cells, for both human food consumption and potential therapeutic uses.
The FDA noted “no animal safety concerns” for GalSafe pigs and stated that the potential environmental impact “is no greater than from conventional pigs.”
Bill Gates Appreciates CRISPR Technology
The FDA also declared lab-grown chicken meat developed by Upside Foods, a California-based firm, safe for human consumption in November 2022. The lab-grown chicken appears to have been developed using a process involving CRISPR.
While proponents of CRISPR and gene-editing tools argue that gene-edited meats can help address increasing global food demand, some experts are urging caution.
They warn that corporate interests may dominate the development and production of gene-edited meats, potentially leading to increased corporate control of the food supply.
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