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Livestock and mRNA Vaccines: What You Need to Know – Pork Business

Background and Factual Information:

In January 2023, a false claim made saying producers are required to inject livestock with mRNA vaccines. Certain advocates opposed to mRNA vaccines are concerned that mRNA vaccines are in use and development in livestock. They think that these vaccines alter the DNA of the animals they’re used on, that they’re present in the food, and pose a risk to human health.

These false accusations have now made their way to some state legislatures resulting in bill proposals that would require labeling on food items from animals treated with mRNA vaccines.

As misinformation regarding the use of mRNA vaccines in livestock filter through social media, there are facts begging to be set straight. The National Pork Board and Dr. Kevin Folta, professor and department chair of the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida, have weighed in on this topic to debunk the myths that have been circulating. It is of utmost importance that we, as producers and industry stakeholders, become well educated on the topic to put these myths to rest.

What are mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) Vaccines?

  • These vaccines are a relatively new technology that have been in development since 2013. mRNA vaccines start with identifying a protein that is designed to prevent or treat a certain disease.

Are mRNA vaccines present in food?

  • “It’s not in your food. It’s a vaccine for the animal that, just like any vaccine, protects the animal from disease,” Dr. Folta says. “Current mRNA vaccines being used in swine are injected into the muscle which causes the development of the immune response protein to then stimulate the body to work against the virus. The mRNA never leaves the cells from where it was injected. RNA is a very unstable molecule that must be kept cold, buffered and in solvent, to remain viable,” Folta explains.

When used, are the animal’s genes altered?

  • While mRNA vaccines include genetic code, Folta says the use of a mRNA vaccines does not alter the animal’s genes in any way.

What are the benefits of mRNA vaccines?

  • More flexibility and faster response to new disease are reasons why mRNA vaccines are becoming more popular. Traditional vaccines require large amounts of a virus to be raised and purified before being injected to elicit an immune response, he adds. Meanwhile, mRNA encourages the body to make a little piece of protein to elicit the desired immune response.

For more information, please contact the state office at or 608-723-7551.