Between the “Will he or won’t he?” presidential debate and the American economy undergoing total protonic reversal, it’s easy to understand that quite a few noteworthy stories got swept aside this week in this week’s news cycle. Here’s one such interesting tidbit – the FDA has released a proposal for regulating genetically modified animals. And by genetically modified, we mean an animal that has had genes or DNA sequences taken from another animal or microbe and inserted into it’s genetic sequence. And by regulated, we of course mean not labelled as what it is. For those of you playing along at home, this means that the government has taken the first steps toward allowing livestock that has been altered on a genetic level into the food supply, meaning that your fast food hamburger may have been tinkered with in a lab before it arrives on you plate.

In a sense, this is old news, or at least a foregone conclusion. Making live stock bigger, stronger and tastier has been a long term goal of agribusiness since there has been agribusiness – in a sense, biotech enhanced animals are just the next logical step from animals that are pumped full of growth hormones, treated with antibiotics from birth and fed on high fat, high protein diets that increase yield. But this next step is a doozy, transforming animals on the most basic level, making their bodies do think that nature never intended. Still, with the pre-eminence of genetically engineered food crops in today’s market, it was only a matter of time until we saw GM livestock enter the marketplace.

Needless to say, bioengineering animals can produce positive results, such as pigs that whose manure is low in phosphates that contaminate water supplies around the world. No one would be sinking billions of dollars of research and development money into bioengineering projects if great (and profitable) results weren’t a possibility. Likewise, it would be silly to assume that the people working on these projects are mad scientists, rubbing their hands together and cackling wildly about the havoc their transgenic creations will wreak upon the world.

But the FDA proposal as it stands reeks of boundless optimism, giving biotech companies the benefit of the doubt that all of these animals are safe for human consumption in the long run without actually feeding them to any humans. Until, that is, you buy you’re next side of smoky, delicious bacon made from a pig that has stopped passing phosphate in it’s stool.

As the proposal stands, which you can read here stands, FDA regulators would have to approve any genetically modified animal before it entered the food system. Companies like Massachusetts based Aqua Bounty Farms, which has is seeking a patent on a strain of Uber-salmon that it would like to sell to you would be required only to prove that the product they are selling is still almost entirely a salmon in every meaningful way. Perhaps most disturbingly, in the name of trade secrecy, no peer review of the animals concerned will be required.

On the plus side, think of all the incredible animals we’ll soon be able to eat! Love the taste of veal but hate the dirty looks you get from fellow patrons and servers? Those are a thing of the past when older cows can be just as tender and succulent after a long, happy life on the range. Have you always wanted the low calorie goodness of chicken with the taste of a tenderloin? We can make that happen. And Kirk Cameron, after long last, will be free to dine on the moist, gamy flesh of the croco-duck. Truly, this is a brave new world.

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