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Gene Editing consultation launches in England

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Image of a field on a sunny afternoon

There is widespread coverage today in The Financial Times, The Times, Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, Daily Express and other publications, reporting on the launch of a 10-week consultation on the future of gene editing.

Announced by the Environment Secretary, George Eustice, this morning at the Oxford Farming Conference the consultation could unlock substantial benefits to nature and the environment, helping farmers produce more resilient crops and to produce healthier, more nutritious food.

The consultation will focus on stopping certain gene editing organisms from being regulated in the same way as genetic modification, as long as they could have been produced naturally or through traditional breeding.

Aside from gene editing, the consultation will also begin a longer-term project to gather evidence on updating our approach to genetic modification by gathering information on what controls are needed and how best to deliver them.

Speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference today (Thursday), Environment Secretary George Eustice will say:

“Gene editing has the ability to harness the genetic resources that mother nature has provided, in order to tackle the challenges of our age. This includes breeding crops that perform better, reducing costs to farmers and impacts on the environment, and helping us all adapt to the challenges of climate change.

“Its potential was blocked by a European Court of Justice ruling in 2018, which is flawed and stifling to scientific progress. Now that we have left the EU, we are free to make coherent policy decisions based on science and evidence. That begins with this consultation.”

Further information is available here.

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  1. Comment by Phil Stone posted on

    Based on his language it sounds like the Minister is already convinced by the industry lobbyists. Consultation with the outcome almost certainly agreed before it’s started. Let me guess, GE will be given the go ahead within a regulatory framework managed and controlled by the industry.

  2. Comment by John Baxter posted on

    The agribusinesses will be happy as controllers of both seed and inputs of fertiliser ,pesticides and herbicides.....but I do not see input costs to farmers decreasing or we might have seen margins increase at a time when margins to those companies are increasing......who is to be believed?
    Are we paying farmers to grow crops with acreage payments so that they find their way into the bottom line of the ADM s, the Cargills, the Syngentas of the world?.......and the patents that farmers do not hold, but who are threatened with infringements if not approved by the agribusiness tycoons.

  3. Comment by Arthur Siggs posted on

    Fantastic news.
    Gene editing has enormous potential to enable us to produce food more sustainably.