Scottish farm leaders have welcomed a UK Government commitment to reform gene editing (GE) rules.
Plans to reviews rules and regulations following the UK’s exit from Europe, announced by the Minister of State at the Cabinet Office Lord Frost, include a commitment to reform the regulations around gene-edited organisms to “enable more sustainable and efficient farming”.
“We now have the opportunity to do things differently and ensure that Brexit freedoms are used to help businesses and citizens get on and succeed,” said Lord Frost.
NFU Scotland‘s crops policy manager, David Michie, welcomed the news and said gene editing technology could be used to breed better crops and livestock with animal welfare, public health and environmental benefits.
Mr Michie said: “New varieties and breeds with desirable traits that help farmers provide public goods, and avoid public bads, are an important piece of the sustainable farming jigsaw.
“In the 21st Century, a new breeding revolution can help address the biggest challenges of our time, the biggest one right now being climate change.”
He added: “There are a lot of things that need to be done to address the challenges we now face, and GE is a tool that should be taken out and used to move forward to a net-zero future.”
The Scottish Government has previously spoken against the use of GE technology, however Fergus Ewing – who previously served as Rural Economy Secretary – hinted towards a change in stance towards the technology.
Mr Ewing told an NFU Scotland online hustings that he accepted there was a difference between GE and GM – which is currently banned in Scotland – and said “we should keep a watching brief on science”.