The Trump administration signaled its backing on Monday for transferring authority over gene-edited meat from the Food & Drug Administration following complaints from the livestock industry that the regulatory agency’s approval process is too cumbersome.
The U.S. Agriculture Department announced a notice of proposed rule-making for new regulations shifting the authority over gene-editing of animals to USDA. The USDA is generally considered more sensitive to the interests of farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses.
Such a notice is typically the first step in a rule-making process that often goes on for months or even years. That likely leaves the decision whether to proceed to the incoming Joe Biden administration. Still, it allows Trump to leave office showing support for a regulatory change sought by the livestock industry.
“Our livestock producers need all the tools in the toolbox to help protect against animal diseases and continue to meet the challenge of feeding everyone now and into the future,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement making the announcement. “If we do not put these safe biotechnology advances to work here at home, our competitors in other nations will.”
A USDA spokesman said no regulatory action is being considered before a 60-day public comment period ends in February.
The FDA currently has purview over gene-editing in animals while USDA oversees approval for gene-edited plants.