Thank you for writing to me about gene editing and animal welfare.
As you know, the Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill will enable the development of precision bred (PB) plants and animals, which will drive economic growth and position the UK as the leading country in agri-food research and innovation.
Of course, ministers recognise that there is a need to safeguard animal welfare. I am assured that no changes will be made to the regulation of animals under the genetically modified organism (GMO) regime until the regulatory system outlined in the Bill is sufficiently developed to safeguard animal welfare.
Furthermore, I am aware that before precision bred animals are marketed, developers will need to provide proof that the welfare of the animal (and its offspring) will not be adversely affected by the precision breeding process, proof which will be presented in the form of an animal welfare declaration. The Environment Secretary will need to be satisfied with the declaration before issuing a PB animal marketing authorisation, at which point the PB animal can then be marketed. This process will also involve extensive and independent scientific assessment of the declaration.
Every animal will continue to be protected by comprehensive and robust animal health and welfare legislations. For example, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal, which will include precision bred animals and their offspring.
I do appreciate your strength of feeling on this matter, and I do think that it should be kept under close and regular review.
Thank you again for writing to me.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking