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Nuffield Report on Gene Editing

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This morning, there was extensive coverage in The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, BBC News, BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, Farming Today and others, of a new Nuffield Council on Bioethics report, urging the Government to ensure that animal welfare is at the heart of plans to introduce genome editing into farmed animal breeding.

Following the Government’s recent response to the gene editing consultation, we have announced that we would be taking a step-by-step approach. This will start with plants only – following that, we will review the application to animals and microorganisms.

We are strongly committed to science-based and proportionate regulation – and we will not reduce animal welfare standards.

Leaving the EU has provided us with the opportunity to adopt a more scientific and proportionate approach to the regulation of organisms produced by genetic technologies such as gene editing.

We recognise that there is strong public interest in how we regulate genetic technologies and that we need to proceed cautiously. That is why we are taking a step-by-step approach, and we will continue to engage with experts, businesses, NGOs, and the public throughout the process.

A Defra spokesperson said:

“We are taking a step-by-step approach to enable gene editing, starting with plants only and then reviewing the application to animals and microorganisms later.

“We are committed to proportionate, science-based regulation and we will not reduce safety or animal welfare standards.”

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