The Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill will remove unnecessary barriers to research into new gene editing technology, which has been held back by the EU’s rules around gene editing.
Environment Secretary George Eustice, said: “Outside the EU we are free to follow the science. These precision technologies allow us to speed up the breeding of plants that have natural resistance to diseases and better use of soil nutrients so we can have higher yields with fewer pesticides and fertilisers. The UK has some incredible academic centres of excellence and they are poised to lead the way.”
This Bill will enable the development and marketing of precision bred plants and animals which will drive economic growth and attract investment into agri-food research and innovation in the UK. The benefits of precision breeding include improving the sustainability, resilience and productivity of the UK’s food system.
Globally, between 20-40% of all crops grown are lost to pests and diseases. Precision breeding has the potential to create plant varieties and animals that have improved resistance to diseases. Precision breeding can also create safer food by removing allergens and preventing the formation of harmful compounds in food.
Professor Susan Jebb, chair of the FSA, added: “This legislation recognises the need to update our regulatory frameworks to keep pace with new scientific technologies. Our regulatory system needs to be fit for purpose to unlock the benefits of new genetic technologies for consumers whilst providing confidence that our food standards will be maintained. This includes animal feed as well as the foods we eat directly.
“As the independent government department responsible for food standards, the FSA is here to make sure people can trust the food they buy and eat is safe, is what it says it is, and that new technologies do not undermine progress towards a healthier and more sustainable food system.”