Brexit victory as scientists celebrate end of 'EU red tape' over farm gene-editing


The UK Government has opted to diverge from European Union rules over gene-editing. The change will enable scientists in England to undertake research and development using genetic technologies, including gene-editing.

The move is thought to be a step in the right direction for farmers growing more climate-resilient crops.

As the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) unveiled its plans on Thursday, they highlighted how the change was dependent on the UK leaving the Brussels bloc.

They said: “The rule changes, made possible by the UK’s departure from the EU, will mean that scientists across England will be able to undertake plant-based research and development, using genetic technologies such as gene editing, more easily.”

The website added: “Outside the EU, the UK is able to cut red tape and set better rules and regulations that work in the best interests of British farmers and scientists.

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“The legislation being laid today is the first step towards adopting a more scientific and proportionate approach to the regulation of genetic technologies, which will allow us to further unlock innovation using these technologies.”

The Minister for Agri-Innovation and Climate Adaptation Jo Churchill said: “New genetic technologies could help us tackle some of the biggest challenges of our age – around food security, climate change and biodiversity loss.

“Now we have the freedom and opportunity to foster innovation, to improve the environment and help us grow plants that are stronger and more resilient to climate change.

“I am grateful to the farming and environmental groups that have helped us shape our approach, and I look forward to seeing what we can achieve.”

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However, the National Farmers’ Union has called on the British Government to ensure all nations in the UK can maintain their market links.

Tom Bradshaw, who serves as the NFU’s vice president, said: “These tools could help in a number of ways; from addressing pest and disease pressures on crops to the development of better and more nutritious foods and products with a longer shelf life.”

He added: “If we are to make this a success, any new Government regulation must be robust, fit for purpose and based on sound science, in order to provide public confidence and allow investment in products for the UK market.

“We must also work with devolved countries to avoid internal market challenges.”


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