Biotechnology

Rabbis and Islamic scholars currently accept products made by simple genetic engineering, e.g., chymosin (rennin) used in cheese making. The production conditions in the fermenters must still be kosher or halal, i.e., the ingredients and the fermenter, and any subsequent processing must use kosher or halal equipment and ingredients of the appropriate status. A product produced in a dairy medium would be dairy. Mainstream rabbis may approve porcine lipase made through biotechnology when it becomes available, if all the other conditions are kosher. The Muslim community is still considering the issue of products with a porcine gene; although a final ruling has not been announced, the leaning seems to be toward rejecting such materials. If the gene for a porcine-derived product were synthesized, i.e., it did not come directly from the pig, Muslim leaders are prepared to accept it. The religious leaders of both communities have not yet determined the status of more complex genetic manipulations and, therefore, such a discussion is premature.

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