The UK will on Wednesday introduce legislation to accelerate the genetic engineering of crops in England – to the delight of plant scientists and to the dismay of some environmental activists and organic farming bodies.
“Outside the EU we are free to follow science,” said George Justice, the environment minister. “Precision technologies allow us to accelerate the growth of plants with natural disease resistance and better use of soil nutrients so we can get a higher yield with less pesticides and fertilizers.”
The launch of the Genetic Technology Bill has been welcomed by tumor researchers. Penny Handelby, a senior scientist at the John Ince Center in Norwich, said the legislation, combined with the UK’s strengths in genetic research, “would take us into an exciting era of affordable, intelligent and precision-based plant growth”.
Many scientists who opposed leaving the EU because of the damage done to research collaboration with the rest of Europe said they saw the easing of the rules of genetic technology as the only clear advantage of Brexit.
“The new bill gives England the opportunity to align its regulations with the rest of the world,” Handelby said, “and I am sure that in the end the EU will follow suit as well.”
Legislation distinguishes between gene editing, which uses new technology to alter the organism’s DNA, and older genetic modification procedures that transfer genes from one species to another. Contrary to EU regulations, which treat both equally burdensome, the rules covering the approval of cultivated crops in gardens in England will be streamlined and simplified while the rules for genetic modification will be maintained.
“Gene editing tools give us the ability to mimic conventional growth techniques by making genetic changes within a species,” said Gideon Henderson, chief scientist in the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. An example of this is the creation of Tomatoes are rich in vitamin D.Researchers at the John Ince Center announced Monday.
Opponents of the bill disagreed with the distinction, arguing that in practice it would not be possible for a non-genetic tumor to achieve such effects. “The use of terms like ‘gene editing’ and ‘precision growth’ are nothing more than branding,” said Liz O’Neill, director of the GM Freeze campaign group. “Editing Gardens is a GM with better PR.”
Both sides disagree on genetic technologies. Henderson said Defra’s survey showed that 57 percent of people thought crop modification was acceptable while up to 32 percent were unacceptable.
However, the Land Association, an organic food body, said 85% oppose deregulation. “We are very disappointed to see the government prioritizing unpopular technologies instead of focusing on the real issues [such as] An unhealthy diet and a lack of crop diversity, “said Joe Lewis, the association’s policy director.
The legislation will also allow for genetic editing of animals, but this part of the bill will be implemented later from the sections dealing with plants, due to concerns about the lucrative implications, Henderson said. “The difference is that in raising traditional animals it is possible to produce results that are harmful to animal welfare, such as animals that have difficulty standing.”
The legislation has already met with skepticism from opposition parties. Daniel Zeichner, spokesman for shadow agriculture, said: “Work is pro-science and pro-innovation. We want our scientists to succeed and help our producers produce more food here in the UK.
“But we will have to be pleased that the government has established the clear and strong regulatory framework needed to provide the certainty that investors need, the security that the public needs, and the protection that the environment needs.”
Tim Farron, a spokesman for the Liberal Democrats on Rural Affairs, warned that this could adversely affect farming communities, which “have already received a raw deal from this government”.
Plant scientists welcome UK bill to deregulate crop engineering Source link Plant scientists welcome UK bill to deregulate crop engineering