The FDA 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.

One wonders if they could make food safer – E. coli free beef, Salmonella free peppers, Campylobacter free milk, Listeria free chicken hot dogs – you get the picture.

Genetically engineered animals are not clones, which the FDA has already said are safe to eat. While clones are exact copies of an animal, genetically engineered animals are manipulated by scientists to bring about a change in their characteristics. In years past, this was done by breeding animals with desirable traits. But now the changes can be made directly in the lab.

Genetically engineered animals are created when scientists insert a gene from one species of animal into the DNA of another animal to reprogam some of its characteristics. For example, fish could be made to grow faster, or pigs might be re-engineered to produce less waste. Animals can also be engineered to produce substances in their milk and blood that can later be used for human drugs.