Examination of Witnesses

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

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Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East 3:15 pm, 28th June 2022

Going back to what was being said about animals, particularly what Joanna was saying, I want to try to unpick this. It has been mooted that one of the benefits of the Bill is that it could result in the breeding of more disease-resistant animals and in less use of antibiotics in livestock management. The downside is that that could pave the way for more intensive farming, because disease obviously spreads when lots of animals are herded together. That does not necessarily mean that making animals more disease resistant and not having to use antibiotics on them is a bad thingQ .

Some witnesses who gave evidence this morning said that it is not the Bill that is at fault. There is a completely separate argument, they said, about whether we want to increase the intensification and industrialisation of animal farming. Where do you sit on that argument? They said that the animal welfare codes deal with some of the concerns. I would say, however, that they are not operating in the right way at the moment, because we already allow a degree of intensification and, to my mind, animal welfare standards are not good.

On the separate issue of increasing yields from animals, cows produce an awful lot more milk than they would have done a few decades ago, and certainly a lot more milk than they need to feed their own calves. Where do you sit on the use of this technology for that purpose? Finally, do you think that the Bill’s provision for the Secretary of State to refer things to a welfare advisory body is a sufficient safeguard? Sorry, that was an awful lot of questions, and you do not have much time to answer.