EU regulations that prevent genetically modified crops from being grown in the
UK—even after they have passed rigorous safety testing procedures—are not fit for purpose and should be replaced with a trait-based system for regulating new crop breeding technologies, the Science and Technology Committee argues in a new report.
Andrew Miller MP, Chair of the Committee said:
"Opposition to genetically modified crops in many European countries is based on values and politics, not science. The scientific evidence is clear that crops developed using genetic modification pose no more risk to humans, animals or
the environment than equivalent crops developed using more ‘conventional’techniques.
“Unfortunately, the way the EU’s regulatory system works means that countries opposed to genetically modified crops can block their growth in other countries.This has driven research activity out of the EU and put at risk the UK’s ability to
be a global player in advancing agricultural technology.
“Regulatory reform is no longer merely an option, it is a necessity. To meet the
huge challenge of feeding a burgeoning global population, using fewer resources,
as our climate becomes increasingly unstable, we will need to use all of the tools
at our disposal, be they social, political, economic or technological.”
The NFU gave both written and oral evidence to the inquiry and support many of the conclusions in the Committee’s report.
NFU's Chief Scientific Adviser, Dr Helen Ferrier, said:
"Genetic improvement has been a critical part of crop production since the dawn of modern farming and biotechnology tools such as genetic modification and genome editing offer significant opportunities for addressing major challenges facing agriculture and horticulture, the environment and wider society."
"We are concerned that a dysfunctional EU legislative process discourages breeding companies from investing in UK-relevant crops. However, completely re-writing the legislation in this area may not in fact produce the desired effect and should not be undertaken lightly."