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NFU Scotland Backs Gene Editing to Yield Widespread Benefits

But Union wary of potential divisions in regulation across the UK  

NFU Scotland has welcomed the opportunity to respond to DEFRA’s consultation document on the future of Gene Editing (GE), dated January 2021.   

The Union believes that GE offers the potential for Scottish farmers to help meet challenges such as climate change, plant and animal health, and market competitiveness, and that new technology should be used when it has been established it is safe for both people and the natural environment.

Genetic technologies such as GE that do not introduce foreign DNA into an organism, and which could have been the product of conventional breeding or natural mutation, should not be regulated under the same system as Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). Instead they should be regulated identically to conventional plants and animals.

Commenting on NFU Scotland’s extensive response, NFU Scotland President Martin Kennedy said: “Authorisation to use plants or animals created by genetic technologies of any kind, should be based on scientific advice on the safety for people, animals and the environment, rather than the technology used. Plants or animals bred using GE techniques do not pose any greater threat to the environment or human and animal health than those created using conventional techniques”.

“Farmers have to take account of changing technology as in every other industry. Without access to the best science our ability to meet the challenges facing the agricultural sector are severely damaged, as is our competitiveness.”

“A division in regulatory processes between the four UK administrations could also cause severe issues for the internal market because of, rather than in spite of, the principles of the UK Internal Market Act 2020 now being in place. That potential also extends to trade with the EU.”

“It is vital that the UK is still able to trade with the EU and, more importantly for Scottish agricultural interests, the integrity of the UK internal market remains intact should England take a different approach to regulating new precision breeding techniques such as GE.”

Ends.

Contact Ruth Oxborrow on 07823 556253

Author: Ruth Oxborrow

Date Published:

News Article No.: 49/21


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