WASHINGTON — Before leaving his position as US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner, Stephen M. Hahn stated that the FDA did not support the memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the gene-editing of animals between the FDA and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The document was signed by US Department of Health & Human Services and the USDA.

“FDA has no intention of abdicating our public health mandate,” Hahn said in a Tweet.  “We’ll continue to stay focused on executing our vital public health mission entrusted to us by the American people. FDA remains undeterred in our steadfast commitment to ensure that animal agricultural biotechnology products undergo independent and science and risk-based evaluation by our career experts. It is essential to ensure that products are supported by the science, safe for the animal, safe for humans, and that it does what it claims to do. Ours is a long history of scientific expertise and decision-making on behalf of the American public.”

Following the approval of the GalSafe hogs in December 2020 by the FDA, the USDA has been pushing for oversight of gene-edited livestock.

“FDA’s goal is to efficiently bring innovative products to market, while upholding our public health mandate & consumer confidence in product safety, as done in recent 1st in kind GalSafe pig approval,” Hahn said in a follow up tweet. “We’ll continue to work with developers to advance animal agricultural biotech.”

Later in December, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said 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.

Last week, the National Pork Producers Producer Council (NPPC) stated its support for the USDA’s oversight of gene-editing in the future instead of the FDA.