27 June 2012

Genetically modified animals are illegal

American onishenki don't know what to do with GM animals

Dmitry Tselikov, Compulenta

Three litters of Yucatan miniature piglets, born at the end of May, live in a room that looks more like an intensive care unit than a barn. They are hand-fed and closely monitored by veterinarians from Exemplar Genetics from Iowa.

The piglets' muscles are already showing signs of deterioration, but for this they were brought out.

These are the first genetically modified pigs in the USA with muscular dystrophy. They are planned to be used to test methods of treating this disease. However, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet decided whether they can be treated this way.

Exemplar Genetics, which plans to sell pigs, has already bred about 275 pigs with cystic fibrosis, heart disease, arrhythmia and cancer (in the picture – one of the samples of their "products" – VM).

It was the turn of muscular dystrophy. Since pigs develop these diseases in a more human way than mice, this is almost an ideal model organism.

However, by doing so, the innovator company found itself in a rather dim legal tunnel. In 2009, the company first applied to the FDA about pigs with cystic fibrosis, but officials still cannot make a decision that would lead to the full commercialization of the product.

Back in 1999, the FDA spoke about the great prospects of GM animals in the food and pharmaceutical markets. Ten years later, the department has prepared basic rules for assessing their safety. In 2009, they came in handy for the approval of GM goats, whose milk contains a substance for blood clotting.

However, since then, the FDA has faced two applications about which it could not say yes or no. Firstly, it is salmon with a gene that promises rapid growth, and secondly, wild boar, which gives less toxic manure. Members of Congress have expressed concerns about "frankenfishing," and environmental organizations are concerned that transgenic animals may escape and start crossing with wild populations.

In April of this year, the sponsor of the project for the removal of non–toxic wild boar - the University of Guelph (Canada) withdrew from the case. In May, the animals were destroyed. The "salmon" company AquaBounty fears that it will have to do the same if the delays continue. The FDA does not comment on its silence in any way.

David Edwards of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (USA) believes that pigs intended for medicine have a better chance of success, because the pharmaceutical industry is in dire need of such organisms. Animal rights advocates may, of course, rear up, but from a legal point of view, the approval procedure should eventually go more or less smoothly, because these pigs are not intended for food.

Meanwhile, work with GM pigs has already begun at several universities in the United States. Since there is no federal approval yet, Exemplar Genetics has to monitor each animal throughout its life. If, say, a scientist from Iowa sends tissue samples to a colleague in California, the firm should know about it.

Prepared based on the materials of Nature News: Model pigs face messy path.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru27.06.2012

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