TIGRR report a timely reminder to Government on need for gene editing reform, says BSPB

“Headline Proposal 14: The UK Government should actively support research into and commercial adoption by UK farmers and growers of gene edited crops, particularly those which help the transition away from agrochemicals to naturally occurring biological resilience.”

That is one of the central recommendations of a report issued on Wednesday (16 June) by the Prime Minister’s Task Force on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform (TIGRR), which was set up earlier this year to identify post-Brexit regulatory changes which could unlock potential for sustainable economic growth and innovation.

Welcoming the report’s strong emphasis on the importance of genetic innovation for more sustainable agriculture, and the recognition that new breeding technologies such as gene editing can help accelerate the development of higher-yielding, more climate resilient crop varieties less dependent on pesticide and fertiliser inputs, BSPB chief executive Samantha Brooke said early action by Government to translate its pro-innovation rhetoric into a more enabling regulatory environment for the plant breeding and seeds sector was urgently needed.

“The Brexit dividends for UK-based plant breeders have been in short supply to date, and the reality is that our members are facing increased costs, bureaucracy and uncertainty while operating in a much smaller market-place. This will inevitably be focusing minds on investment decisions for the future,” she said.

“As we await the Government’s response to the recent Defra consultation on future regulation of new genetic technologies, we strongly welcome the TIGRR report’s recommendation that the Government should move rapidly to amend the definition section 106 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 such that simple gene edited crops which could have been produced through conventional breeding should be regulated as any other variety.”

“This is a timely reminder to Government that early action post-Brexit on the gene editing issue will send a clear signal that the UK is serious about genetic science and innovation, aligning our rules with the science-based regulatory stance of other countries around the world, and strengthening the UK’s position as a global hub for investment and research,” said Ms Brookes.

View all news