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mRNAs In Your Meat
Photo by Ryan Song / Unsplash

mRNAs In Your Meat

Elizabeth Murphy wants to understand the effects of mRNA vaccines on livestock for herself

Today, there are four licensed Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines for use in pigs, cats, and dogs. While currently there is no mRNA vaccine used on cattle, the USDA and the Australian government have begun studying their use. Understandably, Elizabeth Murphy, a lobbyist for the Weston A. Price Foundation, is working to set up a study this summer to understand these vaccines and any potential risks they might introduce more completely. She, Senator Frank Niceley, and Representative Susan Lynn are hoping that the program will give them the information they need to better understand the technology and pass some simple bills.


This past session, the group attempted to push a bill that would do three things. First, it would allow the state, as opposed to the federal government, control food labeling; second, it would strip the State Veterinarian and the commissioner of the Department of Agriculture of their ability to mandate vaccinations for livestock; and third, it would specify that there is no state legal requirement to vaccinate livestock.

Murphy wants to understand what effect these vaccines might have ahead of time. Though an email I received from the Department of Agriculture states that “there is no push by regulatory bodies to increase utilization of these vaccines,” many continue to worry that a future state of emergency, similar to that motivated by Coronavirus, could lead to drastic and potentially damaging mandates. Despite these concerns, opposition to this simple, inexpensive bill was firm: both the House Agriculture Committee and the Farm Bureau are “100% against it,” says Murphy.

She voiced concerns that all animal vaccines will be converted to mRNAs within the next five years, including those for rabies. In recent years, multiple studies have been funded in order to prove the benefits of broadly using mRNA vaccines in animals. 

One review, which was dually funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease and the National Institute of Health in 2018, sought to prove the benefits of mRNA vaccines in animals for their “potency, capacity for rapid development and potential for low-cost manufacture.” While the review acknowledged that previous research into mRNA vaccines had led to optimism, it also referenced two more recent studies that showed “immunogenicity was more modest in humans than was expected based on animal models, a phenomenon also observed with DNA-based vaccines, and the side effects were not trivial.”

It concluded that more research was necessary, citing the then-recently founded Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) as a “multinational public and private partnership [which] aims to raise $1 billion to develop platform-based vaccines, such as mRNA, to rapidly contain emerging outbreaks before they spread out of control.” 

A study conducted only last year, funded largely by the National Natural Science Foundation of China sought to prove the benefit of developing more mRNA vaccines for animals. It focused on all zoonotic diseases, and largely coronaviruses—referencing the pandemic of 2020 and stating the importance of further mRNA development for animals.


“When these mRNA shots take off,” says Murphy, “we won’t know the ramifications.” Murphy wants to protect America’s livestock and farmers above all else, and bills she backs reflect this. “I want to give sovereignty of how they raise their livestock back to the farmer,” she explains.

Currently, she is hoping the summer study (which is being conducted with the Agriculture Committee) can get moving as soon as possible, but admits that it could happen as late as October. Whether sooner or later, she states, “It’s going to be interesting to see how it all plays out.”