| CHICAGO, June 26
CHICAGO, June 26 The U.S. Food and Drug
Administration is opening the door for livestock feed
manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies to roll out
nanotechnology products that could make animals gain weight
faster or absorb medications more quickly.
Nanotechnology, which involves the manipulation of materials
on an atomic or molecular level, is increasingly being tested by
food manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies and cosmetic firms
as a means of improving the shelf-life of food, altering the
look of make-up or changing the impact of medicated animal
The agency's draft guidance on nanotechnology products for
animal foods, released on Tuesday, takes a cautious approach and
highlights "ongoing questions about the safety issues for humans
and animals if such altered products were included into
livestock and animal feed."
FDA told Reuters it is "particularly interested" in the use
of nanotechnology to intentionally change the chemical, physical
or biological properties of animal feed and livestock drugs.
The draft comes as public debate heats up over synthetic
biology -- a decades-old approach of coming up with new
combinations of genes and other genetic material in order to
create new abilities and biochemical functions.
The goal, say scientists and consumer goods manufacturers,
is to produce advances in medical therapies such as new
antibiotics, and everyday consumer products such as laundry soap
and make-up. Critics fear such tinkering could create unexpected
and dangerous side-effects.
The FDA said it was interested in materials or products that
use nanotechnology to deliberately manipulate or control feed
products to achieve specific results, such as boosting an
animal's ability to absorb calories or drugs.
It said pharmaceutical companies and feed additive makers
should consult with the agency before rolling out products, as
the agency does not have enough data about possible safety
issues, according to the guidance.
"We are taking a prudent scientific approach to assess each
product on its own merits and are not making broad, general
assumptions about the safety of nanotechnology products," FDA
Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said in a statement.
The agency rolled out three nanotechnology final guidelines
for other products it regulates this week. The agency will take
public comments from now through Sept. 10 on the draft guidance
for animal feeds.
(Reporting By P.J. Huffstutter)