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Response to mRNA Vaccines

posted on

June 19, 2023

Due to recent news articles about using new mRNA vaccines for cattle, our team and family have received numerous emails and phone calls about this topic. 

Here's the #1 question we're hearing:

“Are we currently using mRNA vaccines for your cattle or other livestock?"

Our answer: 

We do not use or administer mRNA vaccines for our cattle, and we’ve taken additional steps to ensure confidence by updating our protocols and affidavits to prohibit the use of any mRNA vaccines for all of our meat products. 

MRNA vaccines are a relatively new technology that has only recently been approved for use in humans.

I acknowledge this is a complex subject, and I come to this topic seeking to listen, learn, and understand. 

In the spirit of learning and openness, I invite you to read the blog post below, where I've posted my research and answers to commonly asked questions.

Are mRNA Vaccines Already in Use for Cattle?

It does appear that mRNA vaccines for cattle have yet to be licensed, according to a statement from the NCBA as of April 5, 2023: 

"There are no current mRNA vaccines licensed for use in beef cattle in the United States."

While this answer sounds straightforward, it ultimately only addresses the issue of the licensing status of mRNA vaccines. What is still unknown is whether there are any clinical trials underway that have already introduced mRNA vaccines into the U.S. beef supply.

Are mRNA Vaccines Used in Other Classes of Livestock for Meat, Milk, or Eggs?

From my research, I’ve learned that in 2018 Merck introduced a vaccine called SEQUIVITY™ that utilizes mRNA technology. This means some commercial pork producers could be using mRNA vaccines. It does not appear that mRNA vaccines are approved or in use for any other classes of livestock. 

As stated above, our protocols and affidavits prohibit mRNA vaccines for any of our animals raised for meat consumption, including our cattle, hogs, bison, sheep, and broilers for chicken.

Do Certified Organic Standards Allow the Use of mRNA Vaccines?

Yes. The USDA's certified organic standards have always allowed for traditional vaccines. At this point, I see nothing in the organic standards prohibiting mRNA vaccine use. So if you're wondering if certified organic meat will eliminate the use of mRNA, this may not be the case. 

Do Non-GMO Standards Allow the Use of mRNA Vaccines?

Because mRNA is not considered genetic modification, products labeled with Non-GMO Certification can include meat from animals injected with the genetic encoding from mRNA vaccines. 

Yet again, purchasing products labeled as non-GMO will not ensure you are avoiding animals given mRNA vaccines in the future. 

What's Our Position on mRNA Vaccines?

Because plenty of well-tested, traditional vaccines have decade-long track records, I don't see why the agriculture community should rush into this new technology without asking tough questions about the long-term safety of mRNA vaccines.

Our approach has always focused on regenerative practices that allow our animals to build strong immune systems from living in their natural environments. We've always been judicious when deciding when and if a medication should be administered when an animal is suffering or injured. In any event that an antibiotic is administered to an animal, the animal will be tagged separately and removed from our program. 

Like organic standards, we also allow for traditional vaccine administration in cases with high risk for life-threatening infections such as tetanus in cattle or viral conditions such as Marek's disease in laying hens. 

As stated above, our protocols and affidavits prohibit mRNA vaccines for any of our animals raised for meat consumption, including our cattle, hogs, bison, sheep, and broilers for chicken.

Why Are mRNA Vaccines Being Pushed for Livestock?

From my research, here are two common benefits I see touted:

  1. Rapid development: the claim is that mRNA vaccines can be developed and manufactured more quickly than traditional vaccines, which can be critical in responding to emerging disease outbreaks.
  2. Flexibility: mRNA vaccines are designed to target specific antigens, making them highly adaptable to different strains and variants of a pathogen. 

Will mRNA Vaccines Be Used in Other Areas of Farming?

Consumers should be aware that mRNA research is also targeting widespread applications for grains, vegetables, fruits, fertilizers, and soil amendments. 

For example, a research report from the University of Chicago claims that scientists could use RNA technology to increase crop production and boost drought resistance by adding gene coding to specific plant proteins. 

We are watching this area of development closely and will keep our customers updated as we learn more. 

Will mRNA Vaccines Transfer Through Food Consumption?

Those promoting mRNA technology claim that it's doubtful that mRNA vaccines could be transferred through food consumption, as the mRNA would be broken down and destroyed during digestion. 

Additionally, the claim is that mRNA vaccines are designed to target specific proteins found on the surface of a pathogen and don’t affect the genetic makeup of the recipient or the food they consume. 

One question remains unanswered: how will our bodies respond to the new proteins introduced by the mRNA vaccine? Also, could these new proteins pass to the offspring of vaccinated animals through processes such as epigenetics? 

What's the Difference Between mRNA vs. Traditional Vaccines?

The main difference between mRNA and traditional vaccines is how they stimulate an immune response in the animal. Traditional vaccines for livestock often use inactivated or weakened forms of a pathogen, or specific proteins or antigens from the pathogen, to stimulate an immune response. 

In contrast, mRNA vaccines use a small piece of genetic material called messenger RNA (mRNA) to instruct cells in the animal's body to produce a protein found on the surface of a pathogen.

How Can You Avoid Animals Injected With mRNA When Eating Meat?

Currently, mRNA vaccines will likely not require special approvals or disclosure beyond a traditional vaccine. Additionally, as of today, USDA Organic and Non-GMO labeling standards do not prohibit the use of mRNA. 

These facts ultimately mean that labels and certifications won’t be a reliable means to avoid purchasing foods raised with mRNA technology. 

If you wish to consume foods free from mRNA gene-encoding, establish long-term trusted relationships with farmers and suppliers who will be transparent about the use of vaccines. 

We will continue to provide our customers with confidence regarding transparency around the use of mRNA vaccines. 

As stated above, our protocols and affidavits prohibit mRNA vaccines for any of our animals raised for meat consumption, including our cattle, hogs, bison, sheep, and broilers for chicken.

That said, we’ll continue to monitor the emerging developments of mRNA vaccines and will keep you informed as to how this technology is being used within the food industry.

Please know that our family is committed to serving you with trusted wholesome foods for generations. 

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