Brexit has given the UK the opportunity to break the rules that have made it difficult to use genetically modified crops for two decades. Now, the immediate recognition of the use of genetic editing in plants and animals would be compatible with the country, with many already recognizing this technology.
When Boris Johnson became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 2019, he promised to ‘free the UK’s extraordinary life sciences from the rules against genetic modification’. The country had to adhere to strict European biotechnology rules until it was divorced from the EU in January. Next month, the government is expected to fulfill Johnson’s promise by assisting in the testing and sale of some genetically modified crops and animals.
This decision, which must be published before June 17, applies to plants and animals that have been modified with precision techniques such as CRSPR. UK biotechnologists say this will bring the UK in line with a number of countries, including the US, and that it will accelerate research and stimulate investment.
“Brexit pays at least a dividend, just like you have to swallow teeth,” says Jonathan Jones, a plant biologist at the Sainsbury Laboratory, a public crop research center. Tina Parsby, managing director of the National Institute of Agricultural Botany, said the move could be “the most significant political breakthrough in plant breeding for more than two decades”.
In contrast, genetic editing [permite] Replace a species’ own genes without permanently adding any new genetic material. Proponents argue that genetic editing is an acceleration of classic reproductive techniques that select properties that are enhanced by mutations (usually generated by chemicals or radiation).