Can gene editing protect the environment?

Government is supporting gene editing in farming to create more sustainable produce and protect biodiversity

Pathway to COP26 report

The government is backing gene editing to help British farmers grow more sustainable, resistant and nutritious crops.

Environment Secretary George Eustice announced the plans today, to make plant breeding more precise and efficient.

The aim is if less crops are prone to disease, resistant to pests and more nutritious it will be more beneficial to the environment.

Farmers will not have to use as many chemical pesticides and have less yield losses, protecting both biodiversity and their pockets.

As the UK has left the EU, it is able to enact its own rules on gene editing, with the government starting by cutting the red tape on certain rules to make research and development easier and give farmers less hurdles to jump through.

Scientists will be required to notify the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) on any of their research trials before they are brought to market following government reviews.

George Eustice, Environment Secretary, commented: “Gene editing has the ability to harness the genetic resources that nature has provided. It is a tool that could help us in order to tackle some of the biggest challenges that we face – around food security, climate change and biodiversity loss.

“Outside the EU, we are able to foster innovation to help grow plants that are stronger and more resilient to climate change. We will be working closely with farming and environmental groups to ensure that the right rules are in place.”

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