Government launches consultation into gene editing

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Responding to the announcement that government is to launch a consultation on the future regulation of gene editing, NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw said: “New precision breeding techniques such as gene editing have the potential to offer huge benefits to UK farming and the environment and are absolutely critical in helping us achieve our climate change net zero ambition.

“In our drive to achieve net zero by 2040, these new tools could help us address pest and disease pressures on our crops and livestock, increasing our resilience in the event of extreme weather events, as well as reducing our impact through a more efficient use of resources, resulting in lower emissions and less waste.  

“New biotechnologies are also enabling the development of foods with much more direct benefit to the public, such as healthier oils, higher vitamin content and products with a longer shelf life.

“Certainty, transparency and trust in the regulation of biotechnologies, such as gene editing, are essential for farmers and industry, society and scientists, so that safe and effective precision breeding can be delivered as part of a thriving, knowledge-based, food and farming sector and we look forward to responding to this government consultation in detail.

“We know that on its own gene editing will not be a silver bullet, but it could be a very important tool to help us meet the challenges for the future.”

The government consultation into future regulation of gene editing will be announced by Defra Secretary of State George Eustice at the Oxford Farming Conference on Thursday 7 January. The consultation will run for ten weeks until Wednesday 17 March at 23:59.

Gene editing (GE) is a technique that can be used to make changes to a cell's DNA. GE technology can be used to delete existing, add new, or replace DNA sequences within an existing cell. Making changes to a cell's DNA has the potential to affect how that cell functions. GE alters genes that already exist naturally within the organism. It does not involve adding genes from elsewhre / another organism.




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