Clause 18 - Precision breeding register

Part of Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 5 July 2022.

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Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 3:45, 5 July 2022

I will not disappoint the hon. Gentleman, because I do not agree. The amendment is not needed, because in the context of clause 18 it would not be meaningful. This power does not warrant a change in policy, as all key substantive requirements in respect of the register are set out in the Bill, so it is appropriate for the regulations to be subject to the negative procedure.

However, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will find a little more light when I speak on clause stand part. In line with our commitment to transparency, clause 18 imposes a duty on the Secretary of State to maintain a new public register, which the hon. Gentleman welcomed in his comments. The register will include information on precision bred organisms that have been notified for release into the environment for research and development, as well as for marketing purposes. As we have discussed during the course of the day, those will have passed other frameworks in order to get to that point.

The register will contain information provided in notifications as well as further information, such as reports from the advisory committee and the welfare advisory body, enforcement notices and other information relating to precision bred organisms set out in this clause and prescribed in regulations. The register will provide transparency and assure the public that the Government have oversight of plants and animals developed using such techniques. The register will be kept electronically in a free and accessible form on gov.uk.

The hon. Gentleman made a specific point about food, which we have touched on—Professor May’s evidence was good. The hon. Gentleman will have noticed that the FSA has sent further information overnight. The product in the example that he gave would be subject to the FSA’s procedure before the it arrived on the market, so it could be labelled to outline the health benefits for 2.5 billion people across the globe, while alerting constituents such as his, who might wish to steer away from it. On the basis that we are offering transparency, I urge the hon. Gentleman to withdraw his amendment, and I commend the clause to the Committee.