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The FDA for the first time approved gene-edited CRISPR cattle for human consumption, and the approval may allow new biotech companies to get more CRISPR food approved.
Losing a lot of Beef
Cattle exposed to very high temperatures could experience heat stress, which means their bodies cannot get rid of the excess heat. It causes their core temperature to go up, and it may lead to death in extreme cases.
Cattle that experience heat stress eat less, which causes them to grow slower, and are much more susceptible to illness.
Heat stress can cost up to $370 million worth of loss to the beef industry yearly due to decreased infertility, decreased performances, and mortality.
With a rapidly growing world, population heat stress is getting worse, which means there is a need to be thinking about how to produce more food.
Some beef raised in tropical environments has a genetic variant that is naturally occurring that makes them grow a very short-hair coat, which makes the cattle a lot more resistant to overheating, so scientists at the bioengineering company Recombinetics had used CRISPR to edit that gene into an existing type of cattle.
The Future of CRISPR Food
The FDA had spent decades reviewing the other two genetically altered animals they approved for human consumption, a quicker-growing pig and salmon, which is safe for meat allergies. Although, the FDA review process for the CRISPR cattle had only taken less than a year.
That is because the gene being edited into the beef is also found in the same species found in nature, which means people already consume beef from animals that have it. In contrast, the pig and salmon were edited in a way that does not occur in nature.
The faster approval of Recombinetics’ beef may encourage other food-based biotech companies to use natural gene variants to get altered animals to market faster.