Examination of Witnesses

Part of Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 28th June 2022.

Alert me about debates like this

Steven Jacobs:

Just to pick up on where we stand as an organic control body, our role is to maintain integrity through the whole chain of custody, from farm to fork and from seed to shelf. You cannot necessarily tell that a bottle of milk is organic by testing it—actually, there could be tests for that. You can tell a bottle of milk is organic because we have inspected every stage of the process. According to our licensees—and we license more than half the organic land in this country—that is not onerous. They already do various certifications, such as Red Tractor. Our inspectors will be able to do two, three or four of those in one visit. Asking the same question can generate two, three or four certification requirements.

The situation we have is one where there is an established market. In this country, it is worth around £3 billion. Globally, it is worth around $100 billion. It has been going for 60 or 70 years. The regulatory regime has been in existence since the early ’90s. That integrity is accepted in the marketplace and is being bought by shoppers. In the consultation, something like 85% of respondents said it was not that they necessarily objected to gene editing, but they would like to see existing regulatory frameworks upheld. We work in a regulatory framework. We have ISO standards. We are audited by a Government-approved auditor every year. That is how we ensure that that integrity is maintained. For us, those customers have said they do not want GE or GM.