The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a message for researchers working on transgenic animals, but first it has to find them. The agency sent a letter this month to land grant universities, warning that it takes an interest in research involving genetically engineered animals — an interest that could include site inspections — but the agency is still unsure of the true size of the field it is attempting to regulate. The May 13 letters went to 70 schools involved in agricultural research.

"We know there's more than that, but we don't know how many investigators there are or how many species," said John Matheson, the FDA toxicologist in charge of explaining the rules to scientists.

To date, FDA has concerned itself largely with transgenic animals intended for human consumption. But following a recent incident in which pigs involved in bioengineering research were sent to a slaughterhouse,...

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