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Two cows are in a field, with a blue sky in the background

Super Chicken strutted a step closer to the dinner table Thursday. The government said it will start considering proposals to sell genetically engineered animals as food, a move that could lead to faster growing fish, cattle that can resist mad cow disease, or perhaps heart-healthier eggs laid by a new breed of chicken.

The Food and Drug Administration issued a proposed legal framework for how it would resolve such questions as whether the altered animals are safe for human consumption and pose no serious environmental risks. FDA officials said they are focusing on animals that will be used as food, or to produce medications that would then be consumed by people or other animals. The agency is not interested in reviewing genetically engineered mice already widely used in lab experiments.

"Genetic engineering of animals is here and has been here for some time, " said Larisa Rudenko, a science policy adviser with the FDA's veterinary medicine center. "We intend to provide a rigorous, risk-based regulatory path for developers to follow to help ensure public health and the health of animals."...