In the wake of Brexit, the United Kingdom is hearing from supporters and opponents of gene editing as the government considers deregulating the technology when it produces organisms that could have been achieved through conventional breeding.
Commenting on the “consultation,” as it is called, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization said the UK “has the unique opportunity to be the first country within Europe to establish a path forward for genome editing technologies,” which would give farmers in England “new powerful tools to enable agriculture to be a solution to the ever-growing threat of climate change.”
The view of the UK’s Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs is that “organisms produced by GE or by other genetic technologies should not be regulated as GMOs if they could have been produced by traditional breeding methods.”
A group called Beyond GM criticized the potential deregulation, saying “it is clear that the government has already formed a view on the necessity for deregulation, is pursuing this end and regards it as a pathway to ‘innovation.'”
Keep in mind: European Union regulations set strict barriers for introduction of genetically modified crops, and a 2018 European Court of Justice ruling equated gene editing with genetic modification.