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UK gene editing public consultation announcement expected mid-June — The New Dark Age

This month the UK government is expected to follow through on Boris Johnson’s promise to “liberate the UK’s extraordinary bioscience sector from anti–genetic modification rules” by removing safety checks and (probably) GMO labelling and traceability from some crops and livestock made with experimental new genetic engineering techniques.   It comes after a public consultation that – as the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR, “the UK’s pre-eminent progressive think tank”) – concluded gave every impression of the decision having already been made, with the consultation being a mere formality. Other experienced observers have drawn the same conclusion.   The IPPR notes, “It is the task of government to properly listen to, account for and respond to public views on the role of technology. Imposing technologies on farmers and the public, failing to build public understanding or not taking concerns seriously can undermine trust in new approaches and innovation, especially when it comes to food.” And it concludes there is a need for “independent oversight and review of the introduction of new forms of agricultural technology to ensure safety, sustainability, and public trust”. But this is exact opposite of the course that Boris Johnson’s government seems to be setting.   The UK government decision, which will be announced by 17 June, applies to plants and animals whose genes have been edited with new GM techniques such as CRISPR. It will put the United Kingdom in line with the United States. The pro-GMO lobby has long demanded such a change in the EU as well as the UK, as it will help speed new experimental GMOs to market. And, of course, the UK government no doubt hopes it will help them secure the US trade deal that they are so desperate for post-Brexit.

UK gene editing public consultation announcement expected mid-June — The New Dark Age
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