WASHINGTON — The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) continued a push to make the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) responsible for the oversight of genetically engineered agricultural animals.

In a recent statement the NPPC expressed its disapproval with the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) continued oversight of gene-editing in animals.

The statement was issued after a recent Politico report that said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn would not sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on gene-editing of animals between the FDA and USDA.

“The USDA has put forward an open and transparent process to establish regulatory certainty surrounding a promising technology,” said Howard “A.V.” Roth, president of the NPPC. “We are disappointed that the FDA continues to engage in delay tactics that are holding back US agriculture. US pork producers are dedicated to rigorous, science-based policies to ensure food safety for all consumers.”

Late in December, US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced his proposal to move gene-editing animals under his agency. Perdue also said he would be moving forward with an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) to ask for public input and feedback on framework for the recommended change.

NPPC submitted comments to the USDA on Jan. 13 that said the move would “foster innovation, allow for producer access to this technology, and preserve the preeminence of American agriculture globally.”

The trade association added that USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has a review process in place for gene editing in plants, which can serve as a model for livestock.