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Brexit paves the way for gene-edited crops (EU phobias in rear view mirror?)

C C Offline

EXCERPTS: The UK government is to relax the regulation of gene-edited crops to enable commercial growing in England. The plants are to be tested and assessed in the same way as conventional new varieties.

The changes are possible because the UK no longer has to follow European Union regulations, which are the strictest in the world. The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments will get to decide whether to adopt or opt out of the changes.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said that he would be working closely with farming and environmental groups to help grow plants that are stronger and more resilient to climate change. "Gene editing has the ability to harness the genetic resources that nature has provided. It is a tool that could help us tackle some of the biggest challenges that we face."

[...] European Union regulations require that gene-edited crops are treated the same as genetically-modified crops. These rules call for a number of field trials over a period of several years, as well as extensive food safety tests. The final hurdle is for member states to vote to approve a new variety.

This approach is regarded by biotech companies as too onerous and expensive, so no genetically altered crops are developed in the European Union. The Westminster government's plan begins with separating the laws governing GE and GM crops.

As a first step, legislation will be passed later this year to do away with the need for scientists to apply for a licence to carry out open-air trials of a gene-edited crop that could have been produced through traditional cross-breeding.

[...] The more significant change will take place next year when legislation will be brought forward to enable simple gene-edited crops to be regulated in the same way as any new variety for commercial development.

[...] In the longer term, ministers will review England's approach to regulation covering all genetically modified organisms. This includes changes that might allow the commercial development and farming of gene-edited and genetically modified animals. Such animals can be made to be more productive, resistant to some diseases and even better able to withstand hot weather... (MORE - missing details)

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