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Fruit and vegetables

Genetic Engineering Bill to enable innovative technologies to increase the UK’s food security…

PUBLISHED ON: 07/11/2022

The UK government is set to introduce the Genetic Technology Bill, which will cover precision-bred plants and animals developed through techniques such as gene editing.

The legislation will unlock new technologies to boost food production and support farmers to grow more resilient, nutritious and productive crops.

The UK is known across the world for its scientific competence in genetics and genomics and since the UK has left the EU, there is a chance to adopt scientific and appropriate technology for precision-bred plants and animals.

These technologies have the potential to generate more nutritious foods, boost food production, increase resistance to climate change, cut costs for farmers, and reduce carbon footprints, only a few of the most pressing environmental concerns that need to be solved.

Farming Minister Mark Spencer said:

“We are already seeing how new genetic technologies can increase yields, make our food more nutritious and result in crops that are more resistant to disease and weather extremes.”

“British scientists are leading the world in precision breeding and this Bill will put Britain at the forefront of agri-research and innovation – opening the door for more investment and continuing our work to provide farmers with the tools they need to innovate and use new, smart technologies.”

Defra’s Chief Scientific Adviser Gideon Henderson said:

“This is an important time for agricultural science. The ability to use gene editing to make precise, targeted changes to the genetic code of organisms, in a way that can mimic traditional breeding, enables development of new crop varieties that are more resistant to pests, healthier to eat, and more resilient to drought and heat as climate changes.”

“For centuries, traditional breeders have made use of our understanding of genetics to breed plant varieties with desirable characteristics. Gene editing allows precision breeding to make the same type of genetic changes in a far more efficient and precise way, significantly reducing the time needed to create new varieties.

“Precision breeding is a powerful and important tool to help us tackle the challenges of biodiversity and climate change, while feeding a still growing global population.”

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