Kansas, third-largest cattle state in the U.S., is recording an increased rate of cattle deaths linked to extreme heat, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has greenlit a biotech solution aimed at helping both the cows and the farmers, Good Day BIO reports.
According to Reuters, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment was aware of around 2,000 cattle deaths caused by the extreme heat and humidity. These numbers are only from those facilities that requested help from the agency to dispose of the carcasses.
With the rise in humidity and the rise in temperature to 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees Celsius), the cattle suffered from heat stress, said Scarlett Hagins, the spokesperson for the Kansas Livestock Association.
“The animals could not acclimate to the sudden change,” Reuters explains.
A biotech solution
Good Day BIO says there is a solution to this problem, thanks to biotechnology.
Cattle can be gene-edited to have what’s called a “slick” coat, which makes them resistant to heat and gives them the ability to efficiently function in these kinds of extreme weather conditions, says Good Day BIO.
The FDA in March acknowledged that the intentional genomic alteration (IGA) “does not raise any safety concerns.” The company that has developed the technology, Acceligen (a member of BIO), thus does not have an obligation to seek approval from the FDA before marketing the product.
“We expect that our decision will encourage other developers to bring animal biotechnology products forward for the FDA’s risk determination in this rapidly developing field, paving the way for animals containing low-risk IGAs to more efficiently reach the marketplace,” stated Steven M. Solomon, D.V.M., M.P.H., Director of FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.
This was the FDA’s first low-risk determination for a food animal, though the FDA has approved several IGAs for animals including goat, chicken, rabbit, salmon, and pigs.