Consultation launched over gene edited food in England

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Gene editing allows the code of life to be rewritten

The UK government has launched a consultation on using gene editing to modify livestock and food crops in England.

Gene editing alters the DNA of organisms and, until now, its use had been tightly restricted under EU law.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said the approach could be used to develop crops that are more resistant to disease and extreme weather.

He said it could also lead to the production of healthier food, but some are opposed to the technology.

Critics say it creates entirely new organisms, and maintain that stringent regulation is vital.

Gene editing involves making precise changes to the DNA of one particular species and many scientists regard it as distinct from genetic modification (GM), where DNA from one type of organism is introduced to another.

However, in 2018, the European Court of Justice ruled that it did, in fact, count as genetic engineering. And, in the EU, both technologies are currently under strict regulation.

Speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference, Mr Eustice said the UK no longer had to “slavishly follow” European law, which was “notoriously restrictive and politicised”.

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