Thursday, October 21, 2021

Britain eases regulation on gene-edited crops despite public outcry

The UK government on Wednesday announced changes to rules that would make it easier to research and develop “gene-edited” food crops, though nearly 90 percent of respondents to the consultation opposed it.

The rule change would allow field trials of gene-edited crops in England without going through the licensing process, which takes a few months and costs researchers £5,000 to £10,000 ($6,700–$13,500), although scientists still have to have to be informed. Department of the Environment (Defra) their functions.

Ministers raised concerns over the risk of gene-editing and called for it to continue to be regulated as genetically modified organisms (GMOs), despite 87 percent of individual responses to a government consultation.

The government said gene-editing, which involves manipulation of genes within a species or genus, is less risky than GMOs, in which DNA from one species is introduced into another species.

Despite public protests, the government said it would go ahead with the change in the rules as 63 per cent of educational institutions and 82 per cent of public bodies said there was no greater risk than this.

This goes against a 2018 decision of the European Court of Justice, which ruled that gene-editing should be regulated in the same way as GMO organisms.

The UK government saw the change in rules as a victory for Brexit. “Outside the EU, we have been able to foster innovation to help develop plants that are stronger and more resilient to climate change,” Environment Secretary George Eustice said in a statement.

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But campaign group GM Freeze accused Eustis of defying public opposition to genetic manipulation.

“Genetic engineering, whatever you choose to call it, needs to be properly regulated,” said group director Liz O’Neill. “The UK government wants to swap out the safety net of a high-tech free fair public safety for all but the better our food, our farms and the natural environment.”

The Soil Association, a sustainable food and agriculture body, warned that gene-edited crops could be patented for corporate interests and more support for better regulation of genetic research and for farmers to adopt nature-friendly farming methods. called upon.

“Changing the DNA of crops and animals to temporarily make them immune to disease is not a long-term solution; We must invest in solutions that tackle what causes disease and pests in the first place, including loss of crop diversity, declines in beneficial insects and overpopulation of animals,” said Joanna Lewis, the group’s director of policy and strategy.

PA contributed to this report.

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This News Originally From – The Epoch Times

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