Thank you for contacting me about genetic technology.
I know that the Government is working to encourage agricultural and scientific innovation in the UK through legislation, opening the potential of new technologies to promote sustainable and efficient farming and food production.
You may know that globally, between 20 and 40 per cent of all crops grown are lost to pests and diseases. This represents a significant waste of land use and is environmentally costly.
Improving crop resistance to pests and diseases through precision breeding technologies will have a range of benefits. This includes using gene editing to give resistance to disease such as Virus Yellows, reducing the need for pesticides, protecting the environment, increasing food production, and reducing costs for farmers.
The Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill creates a new, simpler regulatory regime for precision bred plants and animals that have genetic changes that could have arisen through traditional breeding or natural processes.
I am assured that no changes will be made to the regulation of animals unless animal welfare is safeguarded.
Gene editing is not genetic modification. Gene editing is a type of precision breeding technique, which has great potential and can help us to adapt to the impacts of climate change and enhance the sustainability and resilience of agricultural systems. Precision breeding technologies can make targeted genetic changes to produce beneficial traits that can also occur through traditional breeding and natural processes. This makes it different to genetic modification where modern techniques are used to insert functional DNA from an unrelated species into another species.
I hope this will reassure you as to your concerns.
Sally-Ann Hart MP