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article imageFDA logjam frustrates genetically modified animal researchers

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By Greta McClain     Oct 2, 2012 in Science
Scientists are becoming frustrated with the time it takes the FDA to approve foods that are made from genetically modified animals.
Researchers in New Zealand have developed a genetically engineered cow which produces milk free of the protein that causes allergies in children. The milk also contains a higher level of the protein casein compared to regular milk, which would result in higher calcium levels and improved cheese yields from the milk according to ABC News.
Published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a technique known as RNA interference is used to block the production of the protein beta-lactoglobulin.
Salmon with "designer DNA" has been waiting for final approval by the FDA for two years, even though the organization said the fish appeared to be safe and did not pose any environmental risks.
The apparent logjam in the process for getting approval to sell food products derived from these genetically modified animals is frustrating researchers and caused some to move their research from the United States to other more "biotechnology-friendly" countries the LA Times says.
Since the late 1990's, public concern over genetically modified foods began to increase and those opposed to the technology became more vocal. A 2002 ProQuest article states that, beginning in 1999, the FDA responded to the outcry of concern by holding three open meetings in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Oakland, California to solicit public opinions and begin the process of establishing a new regulatory procedure for government approval of GM foods.
As reported by Digital Journal, serious health concerns have arisen from some genetically modified (GMO) foods. One such report states that GMO corn has been shown to cause tumors in rats.
These health concerns and public criticism of GMO foods is putting pressure on the FDA to make sure any foods or food sources are safe. Although public opinion seems to be very much in favor of such strict regulations, it does not help researchers that are trying to develop and introduce foods that they believe are not only safe, but beneficial to the overall health of the public. What, if any, common ground can be found that will help to speed up the process of obtaining FDA approval for use of GMO animals and foods remains to be seen. What is certain at this point is that the public is wary of the introduction of such technology into the food supply and scientists are left waiting for years to learn if their research will ever reach the dinner table.
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