Thank you for contacting me about the Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Act.
The Government is working hard to encourage agricultural and scientific innovation in the UK and unlock the potential of new technologies to promote sustainable and efficient farming and food production. The Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Act removes unnecessary barriers inherited from the EU to enable the development and marketing of precision bred plants and animals, which will drive economic growth and position the UK as the leading country in which to invest in agri-food research and innovation.
The Act creates a new, simpler regulatory regime for precision bred plants and animals that have genetic changes that could have arisen through traditional breeding or natural processes. It will also introduce two notification systems for research and marketing purposes, where breeders and researchers will need to notify the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of precision bred organisms. It will establish a new science-based authorisation process for food and feed products developed using precision bred organisms.
Ministers assure me that the Food Standards Agency will only authorise products for sale in the first place if they are judged to present no risk to health, do not mislead consumers and do not have lower nutritional value than their traditionally bred counterparts.
Whilst there is great potential for increasing innovation, the Government recognises the need to safeguard animal welfare in the new regulatory framework. That is why Ministers are taking a step-by-step approach, enabling use of precision breeding technologies with plants first followed by animals later.
The Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Act is consistent with the science and also the approach taken by many international partners around the world that have already legislated in this way. Since this Act received Royal Assent in March 2023, c.£30 million has been invested to drive forward the use of precision breeding technologies. This builds on the £8 million already invested over the past five years.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking