UK plans to use highly controversial ‘gene editing’ to grow ‘more nutritious and productive crops’

New plans to unleash the power of gene editing to help farmers grow stronger, more nutritious and more productive crops have been released as part of the government’s response to the gene editing consultation , announced by UK Environment Secretary George Eustice.

The answer presents ways to plan to pave the way for the use of gene-editing technologies, which the government says can help better protect the environment.

Gene editing is a tool that makes plant breeding more precise and efficient so that we can produce crops that are more nutritious, resistant to pests and diseases, more productive and more beneficial to the environment, helping farmers and reducing costs. environmental impacts.

Research could lead to virus-resistant sugar beet varieties that can lead to severe yield losses and costs for farmers unless pesticides are used. These new varieties would help make our farmers more productive and, most importantly, would also reduce the need for chemical pesticides, protecting bees and other pollinating insects.

Editing genes is different from genetic modification in that it does not lead to the introduction of DNA from other species and creates new varieties similar to those that could be produced more slowly by natural breeding processes – but currently they are regulated in the same way as genetically. modified organisms.

Leaving the EU has allowed the UK to set its own rules, opening up the possibility of taking a more scientific and proportionate approach to regulating genetic technologies. As a first step, the government must change the rules on gene editing to reduce red tape and facilitate research and development.

The focus will be on plants produced by genetic technologies, where genetic changes may have occurred naturally or may have been the result of traditional breeding methods.

Gene editing has the ability to harness the genetic resources that nature has provided. It’s a tool that could help us tackle some of the biggest challenges we face – around food security, climate change and biodiversity loss. Outside the EU, we are able to foster innovation to help grow plants that are stronger and more resilient to climate change. We will work closely with agricultural and environmental groups to make sure the right rules are in place.

Secretary of the Environment George Eustice.

Scientists will continue to be required to notify Defra of any research trials. The planned changes will ease the burden of research and development involving plants, using technologies such as gene editing, to bring them into line with plants grown using traditional breeding methods.

The next step will be to review the regulatory definitions of a genetically modified organism, to exclude organisms produced by gene editing and other genetic technologies if they could have been developed by traditional selection. GMO regulations would continue to apply when gene editing introduces DNA from other species into an organism.

The UK government will examine the appropriate measures necessary to allow genetically modified products to be placed on the market in a safe and responsible manner. In the longer term, this will be followed by a broader review of England’s approach to regulating GMOs.

Genetically modified foods will only be allowed to be marketed if they are deemed not to present a risk to health, mislead consumers and not have a lower nutritional value than their non-genetically modified counterparts.

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