The European Food Safety Authority, EFSA, is for the first time preparing for the authorisation of food derived from genetically engineered animals. After a period of consultation, today is the last day for comments on a first draft of the new EFSA Guidance that will be used to perform risk assessment on relevant products. According to this draft Guidance, EFSA plans to assess the risks of products such as milk, meat, eggs in a way very similar to that used for genetically engineered plants. Issues such as animal welfare and consumer interests are not taken into account. In the next years, products coming up for market authorization might include genetically engineered and patented salmon, which produces additional growth hormones, or products from cows that are engineered with human genes to make their milk similar to human breast milk.
“Products from cloned animals have already been placed on the EU market without any labeling and now a fresh attack on European consumers is about to be prepared. A similar “dam bursting” situation might emerge as it already has with genetically engineered plants. Consumers, food producers, farmers and the animals will become victims of a development mainly driven by the profit- making interests of the biotech industry”, says Christoph Then from Testbiotech.
In a joint comment, Friends of the Earth (FOE), Europe and Testbiotech (Germany) warn that the approach to risk assessment as performed in genetically engineered plants cannot be transferred to animals. They are calling for the EFSA to stop the current ongoing process to develop a new EFSA guidance, and are demanding a restart of the process that takes the interests of consumers, food producers, of animal welfare and the farmers into account from the outset.