U.K. to Facilitate Gene-Deletion Technology


The British House of Lords (equivalent to the U.S. Senate) is considering the Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill supported by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (equivalent to the USDA).  It is intended to introduce a science-based regulatory system for precision-bred plants and animals.  The benefits of genetic modification are considered necessary to counteract the effects of climate change and to reduce the use of pesticides.


The Bill covers precision breeding, applying gene editing, paralleling natural and traditional breeding methods.  The Bill does not cover genetic modification involving the transfer or addition of genes.  It is intended to apply advanced precision breeding to plants and then subsequently to animals.


The John Innes Center will cooperate with farmers and food producers to commercialize innovations.  Professor Graham Moore, Director of the Center, noted, “We welcome the development of this legislation and the science-led approach to enable its delivery.  Our scientists use gene editing to improve the crops we eat every day, including wheat, cabbage, tomatoes and peas.”  He added, “We must use technology such as gene editing if we are to meaningfully tackle the complex challenges of climate change, food security and disease.”


It is intended that the Bill will exempt precision breeding technologies from regulatory requirements currently applied to genetically modified crops.  Two notification systems will be introduced for research and marketing, respectively.  When precision-bred animals are practical, regulations will ensure high standards for animal welfare.