GMO news related to United Kingdom

19.02.2021 |

Co-op becomes first British supermarket to reject GM crops and animals without strict assessments

- The company has thrown its weight behind the #NotInMySupermarket campaign

- The food campaign is coordinated by the groups Beyond GM and SlowFood UK

- According to surveys, majority of UK shoppers oppose genetically modified food

The Co-op has become the first UK supermarket to reject genetically edited food crops and animals without strict assessment and labels.

The move comes amid a Government review on the controversial items, dubbed ‘Frankenstein foods’.

Ministers are consulting on removing some controls, which might include dropping mandatory labelling on foods which contain genetically edited ingredients.

15.02.2021 |

Gene Editing Consultation

The UK Government has launched a Consultation on the Regulation of Genetic Technologies. They are proposing that plants and animals created using new experimental genetic engineering technologies (commonly referred to as gene-edited or genome edited) should be deregulated. This would remove essential protections for people, animals and the environment as well as our right to choose what we are buying and eating.

Please respond to this important consultation by Wednesday 17 March 2021.

27.01.2021 |

Gene-editing advocates ignore history at their peril

Talk with—not at—the public, or risk losing the argument again, says Jack Stilgoe

British scientists are, it’s safe to say, pro-EU. However, during the Brexit spasms, one corner of the scientific community could see a possible upside.

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Gene-editing also raises new possibilities for modified animals in agriculture, which raises additional concerns about animal welfare. Liz O’Neill, director of GM Freeze, has argued that the process of consultation and public debate looks careless.

A new public debate is welcome, but if the government isn’t careful, it risks having—and losing—the same arguments it lost last time around.

21.12.2020 |

Clearing land to feed 2050’s human population threatens biodiversity

The world’s farmland is projected to grow by 3.4 million square kilometers by 2050

Humankind’s growing need for food is running up against thousands of other species’ need for space.

By 2050, humans may need to clear an additional 3.35 million square kilometers of land for agriculture. Converting these largely natural habitats, collectively about the size of India, would squeeze more than 17,000 vertebrate species from some of their lands, researchers report December 21 in Nature Sustainability.

But changing how, where and what food is grown can minimize the impacts, says conservation scientist David Williams of the University of Leeds in England. “We can feed the planet without screwing it up too badly.”

14.09.2020 |

Why the UK could end up deploying risky gene drives while ignoring natural biological control

First they cloned Dolly the sheep. Now they’re targeting grey squirrels. Report: Jonathan Matthews

This summer 78 environmental, agricultural, animal welfare and development organisations from all over Europe called on the European Union to outlaw the release of Gene Drive Organisms in the EU and internationally, warning that reprogramming or eradicating entire animal populations posed grave risks. They’re hoping that the European Union will respect the precautionary principle and reject the release into the wild of this application of ecosystem-level genetic engineering, given its many unexplored risks.

But what about deployment of gene drives in the UK? After all, the UK government deliberately avoided transferring the precautionary principle into post-Brexit law. And given that it has made “liberating” biotechnology a flagship goal and has already begun a push to deregulate gene-editing, it seems highly unlikely that it would support a moratorium.

03.08.2020 |

Gene editing: Unexpected outcomes and risks

Technical advisor: Dr Michael Antoniou

More papers have been published on unintended outcomes and risks of gene editing in medical research on human and animal cells and laboratory animals, compared with plants. The results have implications for the gene editing of farm animals. The problems found with human and animal gene editing are increasingly being confirmed in plant gene editing.

The unintended mutational (DNA damaging) outcomes summarized below occur after the gene-editing tool has completed its task of creating a double-strand DNA break. The mutations occur as a consequence of the cell’s DNA repair machinery, over which the genetic engineer has no control. So even if scientists eventually succeed in avoiding off-target mutations, most of the unintended mutations described can still occur at the intended gene-editing site.

01.08.2020 |

GMO promoter Krebs misleads the BBC and the British public on gene editing

Makes inflated promises and false claims for an unproven technology

Below is a transcript of what the GMO promoter and member of the UK’s House of Lords, John Krebs, told the BBC in an interview about the government's intention to deregulate gene editing so that it's no longer defined and regulated as a genetic modification technique.

Krebs was a supporter of the amendment to the Agriculture Bill, which aimed to deregulate gene editing. While the amendment was withdrawn, ministers have voiced the government's intention to take up the deregulation of gene editing issue, starting with a public consultation in the autumn.

02.07.2020 |

Genome editing: Scientifically indefensible, anti-democratic, and harmful to trade

The amendment to the Agriculture Bill seeking to de-regulate gene-edited foods and crops should be discarded

An amendment has been tabled[1] in the UK House of Lords to the Agriculture Bill, seeking to change the definition of a genetically modified organism (GMO) in the UK’s Environmental Protection Act (1990) in order to exempt certain types of new genetic modification techniques, such as gene editing, from GMO regulations, within the context of “Agriculture Research”. This would mean that certain types of genetically modified organisms, including gene-edited ones, would escape safety checks and labelling. The Agriculture Bill will go to the committee stage in the House of Lords on 7 July.

02.07.2020 |

UK: Ask Ministers to reject plans to deregulate genome editing

What’s happening

A new Agriculture Bill is making its way through Parliament. An amendment has been tabled that would give the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (currently George Eustice) the power to change the definition of a GMO and re-classify many forms of genome editing as non-GM. That would mean that those techniques were no longer regulated (meaning no safety checks or GM labelling) and could be used on our farms or in our food without our knowledge or consent.

GM Freeze is working in partnership with Beyond GM and GMWatch to oppose this amendment and other attempts to deregulate the use of genome editing in our food or on our farms.

08.06.2020 |

Don't de-regulate risky gene editing, scientists tell Eustice

Amendment to the Agriculture Bill without full Commons debate is "violation of the political process that is not acceptable in a parliamentary democracy"

A group of MPs, peers and the GMO research establishment is urging the government to introduce genome editing into UK food and farming by sidestepping parliamentary and public scrutiny, as Pat Thomas and Lawrence Woodward of Beyond GM recently reported.

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If adopted, the Amendment would open the door to the deregulation of genetically engineered crops and animals produced using gene-editing technologies such as CRISPR.

The Amendment has not been debated in the Commons and its attachment to the Bill at this late stage of its passage through Parliament appears to be a blatant attempt to avoid a full and open debate on a crucial issue with widespread implications for the farming and food sector and consumer choice.

Now two scientists familiar with gene-editing technologies have written an Open Letter to George Eustice asking him to reject the Amendment and not propose it to the Lords.

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