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Jerry Pommer: Livestock Biotech Conference Preview

BIOtech Now visited with Jerry Pommer, Director of Animal Regulatory Compliance and Quality Assurance for Hematech, Inc. in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Jerry is a member of the program steering committee for BIO’s first-ever Livestock Biotech Summit, which  will provide participants with three days of cross-cutting discussions among industry, academic and government leaders on the care and use of animals in research and the many possibilities in the realm of GE animal research, regulation, and funding within the biotechnology industry. Jerry discusses the unique draw and expectations for the conference, in addition to the GE animals that will be spotlighted – including:

  • Pigs that have been genetically engineered to produce human compatible donor tissues, cells and organs;
  • Cattle that have been genetically engineered to produce human antibodies that can help prevent and/or treat a wide variety of human health conditions and diseases;
  • Cattle that have been genetically engineered to be “prion-free” and therefore resistant to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or “mad cow disease”); and
  • Goats that have been genetically engineered to produce a spider silk fiber in its milk.  With its strength and elasticity, the spider silk has a variety of applications such as providing artificial ligaments and tendons, eye sutures, and for jaw repair. The silk could also have industrial applications in bulletproof vests and improved automobile airbags.

Listen to the podcast

The Livestock Biotech Summit is Coming!

Don’t miss your chance to get the special early-bird registration rate for the 2010 Livestock Biotech SummitRegistration is now open, and our early-bird discounts will expire on Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 11:59 pm Eastern Daylight Time.

 The first-ever Summit of its kind, scheduled for September 28-30, in Sioux Falls, S.D., will provide participants three days of cross-cutting discussions among industry, academic and government leaders.

Program highlights include:

-A unique workshop tailored specifically to the care of agricultural animals in research as well as an interactive presentation on the newly revised Ag Guide.

– Lively sessions focused on genetically engineered animals and around such topics as real life case studies of products weaving their way through the regulatory process, food and biomedical applications, and funding opportunities for animal biotechnology research.

– W.R. Gomes, Ph.D., Vice President Emeritus of the University of California, will speak on developing global solutions through animal biotechnology.  Gomes recently retired from the University of California, where he served as Vice President of Agriculture and Natural Resources for the university-wide system, Director of the California Agricultural Experiment Station, and Director of California Cooperative Extension. 

Bruce Knight, Principal and Founder of Strategic Conservation Solutions, will give an overview of animal agriculture focusing on the increasing importance of animal care.  Formerly the Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs at USDA and Chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, Knight is a nationally recognized expert on conservation, agriculture, and the environment.  He is currently a consultant focused on conservation and environmental issues related to agriculture.

– Dr. John McGlone of Texas Tech University will be coordinating the workshop on the care and use of livestock in biomedical and agricultural research.  Dr. McGlone speaks globally on topics of animal welfare, sustainable animal production, animal behavior, stress physiology and humane animal care.

– Panels of experts speaking on the “Case Study on the First Success Story on the U.S. Road to Regulatory Approval”, the “BIO GE Stewardship Program”, “New Products in the Pipeline”, “Funding Research on GE Animals”, and “Challenges for the Future”. 

BIO’s first-ever Livestock Biotech Summit is co-sponsored by: AAALAC International; Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Animal Care – USDA; Exemplar Genetics, Hematech, Inc.; Sigma-Aldrich; South Dakota Biotech Association; South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development; South Dakota State University; Trans Ova Genetics; University of Illinois; and ViaGen, Inc. 

For more information on the Livestock Biotech Summit – including updated program information and registration instructions – go to www.bio.org/livestockbiotechsummit, or contact David Edwards, BIO’s Director of Animal Biotechnology, at dedwards@bio.org.

Students Assess Future of Genetically Engineered (GE) Food

In a new paper, Student Response to Transgenic Meat: An Analysis of a Fort Valley State University Survey, to be presented at the Southern Agricultural Economics Association annual meeting on February 6-9, 2010 researchers surveyed college students’ acceptance of meat derived from livestock or fish that had been genetically engineered and found that more than half the respondents said they would purchase meat from GE animals if the price was the same as meat from conventionally raised animals.

The researchers surveyed 372 students to find out what they thought about meat from genetically engineered (GE) animals . The answer: they found that in addition to a willingness to purchase meat from GE animals, respondents who said they read labels when shopping were more likely to purchase meat from GE animals. The results also suggested that respondents who trust scientists to tell them the truth about biotechnology and meat production were more likely to purchase meat produced from biotech animals.

The researchers wrote,

“As food and fiber production continue be [sic] impacted by scientific advancement, the question continues to be whether consumers will accept those new or improved products. In this study we looked at students because they are the future consumers.”

That is the key, because students are our future, and genetic engineering is the future of food.

GE Rice in China

This week, Singularity Hub writes about

Genetically modified or genetically engineered (GE) rice in China.

“China grows a lot of rice – about 60 million tonnes a year. It also consumes most of that, only exporting around 1% of its crop. So, high demand for production with little fear of export restrictions? Sounds like a recipe for genetic modification. According to Reuters, China recently approved the commercial use of genetically modified rice and corn to be phased in probably within the next two to three years. Both strains of GM grains were created locally. Huazhong Agricultural University developed Bt rice, which contains proteins from Bacillius thuringiensis bacteria that allow it to resist the rice stem borer, a major pest in China. The Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences likewise developed phytase corn which helps livestock more easily absorb necessary phosphorus from feed. Experts believe that widespread adoption of the GM rice in China may lead to an 80% reduction in pesticide use, and an 8% increase in crop yield. More food, less pollution. With a promise like that, we could see GM rice spread from China to the rest of the world.”

“The short term benefits for China could be enormous. Most of the country’s rice is grown on small farms, and these local farmers are exposed to a variety of pesticides to maintain their crops. Bt rice will drastically reduce the amount of needed pesticides and may relieve the need to flood fields. (Flooding is partially used to reduce the prevalence of parasites.) Phytase corn will not only allow livestock to more easily receive needed nutrients from feed, it will eliminate some of the phosphorus waste present in pig and cow manure.”

If you’d like to know more about feeding the world you might be interested in, The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST), along with BIO, the Council for Biotechnology Information and CropLife International, will host a special “Town Hall Meeting” to promote and discuss the release of CAST’s first publication of the new year, Agricultural Productivity Strategies for the Future: Addressing U.S. and Global Challenges (Issue Paper 45)

The event will take place on Friday, February 12 at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

On GE Animals, Taking Initiative through Guidance on Stewardship

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!