U.S – The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared Washington State University (WSU) to commercially distribute German-style sausages made from gene-edited (GE) pigs, making it the first U.S university to gain such approval.

WSU used gene-editing to make the pigs surrogate sires. This was to enable researchers to use them to sire offspring with traits from another male pig.

The male pigs were rendered infertile by using CRISPR technology to eliminate the NANOS2 gene. The surrogate sires are then implanted with the stem cells of another male pig, which can produce sperm with desired characteristics that can be passed down to the following generation.

The procedure is a component of a sophisticated selective breeding program designed to produce cattle with meat that is of better quality and more resistant to diseases and stress.

The FDA has granted experimental approval just for the WSU-developed pigs. Although the gene-edited pig was not created expressly for desirable meat qualities, its pork is nonetheless safe to consume.

“It’s important for a university to set the precedent by working with federal regulators to get these animals introduced into the food supply.

“If we don’t go through that process, all of the research we’re doing is for naught because it will never make it out into the public,” said Jon Oatley, a Professor in the School of Molecular Biosciences in WSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

The 2-year-old pigs were processed at the WSU Meat Lab, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture inspected the meat as it does with all meat products.

WSU used the pork to produce sausages for catering, and the proceeds from the sales will go toward student travel funding.

The FDA’s approval proved that academic institutions can secure food safety certifications and that universities and government agencies may collaborate to introduce better options into the food system.

“The original intent in making these animals was to try to improve the way that we feed people. And we can’t do that unless we can work with the FDA system to get these animals actually into the food chain,”  said Oatley.

Save for WSU, the FDA has previously only approved the use of a gene-edited animal produced by a company called Acceligen.

The “Slick-Haired Cattle” were gene-edited to have coats that boost their resistance to higher temperatures. In 2020, the FDA designated beef derived from such cattle as low-risk.

The FDA has authorized genetically modified animals produced by other businesses, but those animals were transgenic, a distinct process that involves integrating DNA from another species into an organism’s genome.

Modern, cutting-edge gene-editing technology can create modifications that might occur naturally or as a result of conventional breeding methods. It only works within a species’ DNA.

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