When you hear the word GMOs, chances are high that you think of plants, not animals. In the last 20 years, indeed, the Frankenfood controversy has forestalled the use of genetic engineering in animal breeding. To date, only a single food animal can be eaten in a single country (the fast-growing AquAdvantage salmon approved in Canada), while transgenic plants are grown on more than 180 million hectares in over twenty countries. Genome editing is now knocking at animal farms, will the door open?
Argentina is adopting a balanced approach, but uncertainties abound in the US, where edited animals are over-regulated in comparison with edited plants. Don’t miss the thoughtful perspective by Alison Van Eenennaam just published in The CRISPR Journal and a piece in MIT Technology Review on lobbying efforts in Washington. Stakes are huge for farmers worldwide, as the Roslin Institute director Eleanor Riley recently explained to The Guardian and as Bill Gates argues in his must-read comment in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs.