194943 Genetically engineered animals in agriculture: Trait selection and public health

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 11:10 AM

Michael Greger, MD , Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture, Humane Society of the United States, Washington, DC
The release of the FDA Final Guidance on the commercialization of genetically engineered animals has sparked renewed discussion over the ethical, consumer, and regulatory implications of transgenesis in animal agriculture. Human health concerns have focused on the zoonotic potential of xenotransplanted endogenous retroviruses and the role of growth hormone constructs in cancer promotion, but have neglected to address the observed inverse relationship between productivity and immune competence. Given the proportion of emerging and reemerging human pathogens originating from animal agricultural, further deterioration in disease resistance and biodiversity among production animals may have global public health implications. The unprecedented emergence and spread of the highly pathogenic avian influenzavirus A subtype H5N1 underscores the human health importance of agricultural animal disease susceptibility. The production-related diseases associated with extant breeding technologies are reviewed, as well as the predictable anthropocentric consequences of the application of biotechnology with the continued emphasis on prolificacy at the potential expense of disease resistance.

Learning Objectives:
1. List at least five technologies that have been used in animal agriculture to promote productivity with theoretical or demonstrable adverse public health effects. 2. Identify at least five zoonotic pathogens that have emerged in recent decades from agricultural settings. 3. Explain how the resource-allocation hypothesis may define a broad area of previously neglected risk associated with agricultural animal transgenesis.

Keywords: New Technology, Food Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Participated in a science policy forum on the topic hosted by the Center for American Progress and the Center for Science in the Public Interest and am in the process of submitting a paper on the topic for publication.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.