To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of level of research into gene editing in the food supply chain; what assessment his Department has made of the extent to which gene editing will be part of the food supply chain in the future; what plans he has bringing forward legislative proposals to regulate that technique; and if he will make a statement.
Gene editing has the potential to improve our ability to breed crops and animals with beneficial traits, and thereby contribute to making food production more efficient and sustainable. The Government is providing appropriate support for research and development, in particular through the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. Where gene editing results in an organism with DNA from a different species it will be regulated under the controls for genetically modified organisms. However, the Government’s view is that specific regulation of this technology is not required where the induced genetic change could have occurred naturally or been achieved through traditional breeding methods. Defra’s current consultation paper on the future for food, farming and the environment invites views on research priorities to drive improvements in productivity and resource efficiency. It also refers to gene editing as one of the innovations which can help us to meet our objectives.