BIO’s Dr. Clint Nesbitt Named to APLU-AAVMC Task Force on Gene Editing in Animal Agriculture

Dr. Clint Nesbitt, Senior Director of Science and Regulatory Affairs for Food & Agriculture at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), was named today to a Task Force on Gene Editing in Animal Agriculture. The Task Force is being led by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC).

“We applaud the APLU and the AAVMC for launching this initiative that brings academic experts to the table,” said Dana O’Brien, BIO’s Executive Vice President for Food & Agriculture. “We’re honored that Clint will be representing BIO among this impressive slate of individuals, some of the foremost animal science leaders in the world.”

The 11-person panel is comprised of scientists and industry leaders who will develop recommendations for regulating the use of gene editing in animal agriculture with appropriate safeguards and procedures.

“Animal biotechnology has enormous potential to address animal health and welfare, and numerous agricultural, environmental, humanitarian, and public health challenges, including helping to prevent and respond to zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19,” said Nesbitt.

“New biotech methods like gene editing can make animals resistant to disease and enhance animal well-being. But an optimal regulatory system for animal biotechnology needs to address safety and oversight while paving the way for innovation to flourish,” Nesbitt added.

In a letter sent last week to Congressional leaders, BIO joined with 27 members of the Council of State Bioscience Associations calling for legislative action to streamline the regulatory oversight of animal biotechnology. 

According to the APLU and the AAVMC, the task force was born out of a September 2019 symposium, “Gene Editing in Livestock: Looking to the Future,” which the two associations organized. 

During that event, 23 of the nation’s leading experts from academia, government, industry, and professional groups determined that work with animal and plant genomes has vast potential for limiting disease and increasing productivity, but agreed that appropriate regulatory processes should be thoroughly considered and structured. The task force will conduct its first virtual meeting in June 2020.

Prior to joining BIO in late 2014, Dr. Nesbitt worked for more than ten years as a regulator of agricultural biotechnology in the Biotechnology Regulatory Services of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Prior to this, he worked for Cornell University’s Cooperative Extension Program, where he was director of a public outreach and education project on agricultural biotechnology.

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