UK Government passed the Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Act law on 23 March 2023. Following the change in the law, Gene-edited food can now be commercially developed in England.
This act covers precision-bred plants and animals using technologies such as gene editing to adapt the genetic code of organisms. It allows gene changes that could have occurred naturally or as a result of existing crossbreeding programs.
This act will help in unveiling new technologies to improve food security, reduce pesticide use, drought and disease resistance and boost climate resilience in crops.
According to Prof Gideon Henderson, chief scientific advisor for the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra), this law would not only improve food production but will also bring job opportunities and investment to England.
“What’s changed is that we can now use precision breeding technology developed in the lab and take it into the fields so that we can grow better crops and bring them to market more readily so that we can use the technology to enhance agricultural outcomes and food production in the UK and globally,” he said.
But there is a mixed reaction!
Supporters of the technology foresee it to be an innovative step. They say it will encourage the development of hardier crops that will be needed because of climate change.
However, Critics claim that this could bring ”disaster” to food production and the environment.