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Genome Editing: Great Britain plans to relax genetic engineering law

In June, the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) will ease strict rules for growing certain genetically modified plants and animals. Prime Minister Boris Johnson After his election in 2019 the UK Department of Life Sciences had already announced that it would be exempt from the rules for genetic modification.

A decision is expected on June 17 »Science Mac. However, this change will initially only apply to the UK. Scotland, Wales And Northern Ireland Independent regulation of the cultivation and marketing of genetically modified organisms and has so far been reluctant.

In particular, it is about the easy cultivation and easy commercialization of plants and animals, whose genes have been precisely modified with the help of new techniques such as Crisper gene scissors. Existing genetic material is modified by target mutations – similar to what happens approximately in reproduction. It is not possible to see later how a plant or animal was transformed.

Cultivation without a comprehensive application

“We have no reason to believe that these plants pose a greater risk than those traditionally bred,” said Angela Corp, director of Rothamstead Research, the UK’s largest agricultural research firm, according to an unnamed media report. Modified plants.

Under the UK policy amendment, extensive applications and pre-domain testing and business approval for such plants in the UK may become obsolete.

In the European Union (EU), the England Since left, other rules apply. European Court of Justice (ECJ) Judged 2018Genetically modified plants, like other genetically modified organisms, come under the strict EU law of genetics, so can only be grown after extensive and lengthy testing and sold only on labeling.

The EU also discusses regulation

Biotechnologists believe the opportunity to relax in Great Britain will encourage research on new plant species. For example, they work in varieties that can better cope with drought or heat or repel pests so they do not need to be sprayed too much.

In United States And some countries already have significantly looser rules for GM plants than the EU.

“It’s very difficult for me, but I have to say that Brexit pays at least a fraction,” said Jonathan Jones, a plant biologist at the University of Cambridge’s Sciencebury Laboratory. Tina Parsby, of the National Institute of Agricultural Botany, said the new rules could be “the biggest political breakthrough in plant breeding in more than two decades.”

However, critics are concerned that pest-resistant plants or animals could further intensify agriculture or spread widely in nature and migrate to other species. In the discussions on this subject, there is currently a lot about building confidence and dealing with the opportunities and limitations of technology.

Adjustments to regulate genetically modified plants are also being discussed in the EU. EU Commission in April An investigation It was published that the technology would be more conducive to sustainable agriculture. However, experts do not see the possibility of the EU parliament approving changes to the regulation.