Us Fda Declares Genetically Modified Pork 'safe To Eat'

Posted: Dec 17, 2020

Genetically modified (GM) pigs have been approved for food and medical use in the US, drawing mixed reactions. The pigs are only the second GM animal to be approved for food after GM salmon in 2015.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week approved the GM pigs, which have been engineered to eliminate alpha-gal, a sugar found in pigs that can cause allergic reactions.

The FDA said it was the first time it had approved a GM animal for human food and medical use.

The FDA said it had determined that the food from the GM pigs, known as GalSafe pigs, is “safe for the general population to eat”, and suggested the meat might be sold by mail order.

A spokesperson for United Therapeutics Corp, the GM pig developer, was more cautious. In an email to the Guardian, the company’s head of investor relations said it had no plans to sell meat directly. The more immediate goal, he said, was to focus on alpha-gal free, whole-organ transplants for patients with alpha-gal syndrome.

“We’re looking at the potential for partnering with meat producers, but we have no plans to sell any meat ourselves,” said Dewey Steadman, adding that the “size of the GalSafe herd is limited to one farm and 1,000 head along with one abattoir”, indicating that mass distribution was not possible now.

Steadman said the current gene edit was “just one of 10 edits we are currently using in pigs for our preclinical xenotransplantation [transplants to humans from nonhuman sources] development program that we hope one day will help address the critical shortage of transplantable organs for humans in need.”

By Sophie Kevany
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