On GE Animals, Taking Initiative through Guidance on Stewardship

Farmer Gene

BIO hosted a successful special session on August 20th where the first public presentation was made of the BIO Guidance on Genetically Engineered (GE) Animal Stewardship with 100 international scientists and government officials in the audience of the 7th Transgenic Animal Conference, Tahoe, Calif.

Why is a stewardship program important to those working in research and development with GE animals? Stewardship is the initiative and processes undertaken by product developers in industry, academia and other groups, to increase their control over and responsibility for the conduct of practices.

Today’s landscape for GE animal technology includes many issues that drive public confidence and acceptance. These include the continuing “GMO” debates, the animal welfare concerns about GE technology, and concerns on ethics, social, religious issues. But the landscape also includes cutting edge science, strong regulatory processes, and best of all, the promise of compelling benefits of GE animals including advancing human health, enhancing food quality and safety, softer environmental footprint, enhanced animal health and welfare, and improving industrial products. By adopting a stewardship approach, we may minimize the negative issues and optimize the positive issues.

  • The mission of BIO’s Stewardship Initiative is to institute and promote guidelines for the development and use of GE animals, which promote good animal welfare and comply with current regulatory requirements. BIO Guidance is meant to be valuable to all who are conducting research and development of GE animals, ‘product developers’, including academia, industry and other organizations. The Guidance is meant to assist companies, universities, and the industry in developing and adopting their own stewardship principles. It will serve as a practical useful guidance; a one-stop shop.
  • The Guidance presents what is required to be done according to existing law and regulations, and it suggests other practices, dependent on animal species and application, that we should consider.
  • The Guidance addresses stewardship of GE animals through the life cycle of animals and animal products.
  • Module One, “Guidelines for Research and Development,” was presented.
  • Additional modules in the BIO Guidance will be developed in the future.

The feedback on BIO’s Guidance was excellent, with one leading expert in GE animal research stating, “it is timely and important to do this”. We had several positive compliments and constructive comments from domestic and international scientists and governments. Visit BIO’s web site soon to see the first Module.

The excitement at the Conference and the sophistication of the science (and the stewardship guidance!) being presented is terrific. This event serves as an excellent springboard for the new and novel BIO Livestock Biotech Summit to be held next year in late September, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It’s time to put that event on your calendar!

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