Thank you for contacting me about gene editing.
Gene editing has the ability to harness the genetic resources that mother nature has provided, in order to tackle the challenges of our age. This includes breeding crops that perform better, reducing costs to farmers and impacts on the environment, and helping us all adapt to the challenges of climate change.
I am aware that the potential of gene editing was blocked by a European Court of Justice ruling in 2018. Now that we have left the EU, this country is free to make coherent policy decisions based on science and evidence. I know that technologies developed in the last decade enable genes to be edited much more quickly and precisely to mimic the natural breeding process, helping to target plant and animal breeding to help the UK reach its vital climate and biodiversity goals in a safe and sustainable way.
It is important to note that gene editing is different to genetic modification where DNA from one species is introduced to a different one. Gene edited organisms do not contain DNA from different species, and instead only produce changes that could be made slowly using traditional breeding methods. Currently, gene editing is regulated in the same way as genetic modification.
The Government is now consulting on the issue of gene editing, focusing on ending certain gene editing organisms from being regulated in the same way as genetic modification, as long as they could have been produced naturally or through traditional breeding. I understand that this approach has already been adopted by a wide range of countries across the world, including Japan, Australia and Argentina.
I know that Ministers will continue to work with farming and environmental groups to develop the right rules and ensure robust controls are in place to maintain the highest food safety standards while supporting the production of healthier food.