Gene editing of animals and plants to get the green light
Boris Johnson’s government will push legislation to allow gene editing of animals and crops to improve Britain’s agricultural productivity.
The Genetic Engineering (Precision Breeding) Bill outlined in the Queen’s speech aims to encourage “efficient” farming and food production – and do away with the rules inherited from the EU after Brexit.
Gene editing is considered less risky than genetic modification (GM) because it does not involve the introduction of DNA from a different species.
But the practice is still controversial, and activists warn of potential security implications from a “high-tech free-for-all.”
The technology’s use was restricted by a 2018 European Court of Justice ruling, which determined it should be regulated in the same way as GM.
But Brexit Minister for Opportunities Jacob Rees-Mogg has been keen on finding ways to ditch EU rules so the UK can increasingly move away from Brussels.
The government hopes the simplified regulation will allow gene editing to increase disease resistance in crops, which in turn can reduce pesticide use and increase production.
Gene editing changes the traits of a plant or animal species much faster and more precisely than traditional selective breeding, which has been used for centuries to create stronger crops and livestock.
The bill provides for two notification systems, requiring breeders and scientists to report precision-bred organisms to Defra. The information collected on precision-bred organisms is published in a public register.
GM Freeze, an umbrella organization of organizations wishing to highlight concerns about the effects of genetic modification, argues that not enough is known about gene editing.
The group has stated: “By proposing to lift existing safeguards, the government seems to have decided that what we don’t know doesn’t matter and that we should take our risk with potentially adverse effects on people, animals and the environment.” .”
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/gene-editing-animals-plants-bill-b2075517.html Gene editing of animals and plants to get the green light