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Brexit: Plant breeding is ‘huge opportunity’ for UK says farmer


The European Court of Justice's decision to ban plant editing could be reversed in the UK post-Brexit, a farmer union chief has revealed. Research institutes from across Europe have been calling on the European Parliament and the European Commission to rethink their stance on genome editing of crop plants. Tom Bradshaw, the Vice President of the National Farmers Union, has spoken about how this could be one of the possible advantages of leaving the EU.

He said: "A lot of the EU recommendations have been gold-plated within the UK.

"But plant breeding is probably one of the issues that comes up.

"Precision plant breeding is somewhere where there is huge opportunity.

"The European Court of Justice back in 2018 banned something called gene editing."

Bradshaw continued: "All it's doing is speeding up natural plant breeding.

"That's one area where there's huge opportunity for the UK to get their policy right.

"Boris Johnson stood outside Number 10 when he was first elected, saying he wanted to 'unshackle' our world leading bio science.

"I think that is a massive opportunity if we get it right."

The union representative added: "That's where it becomes important that we aren't tied to the European legislation forever.

"We do have a high cost of production because of the regulations we have to meet.

"So we mustn't be undermined by product that we wouldn't be allowed to produce here."

Experts have warned that Europe could lose its competitive edge in sustainable food production if the EU does not rethink its rule.

The US, China, Japan, Brazil and Australia deem gene edited foods as safe.

In a 2019 statement, researchers at 120 institutes around Europe said the EU’s ban “no longer correctly reflects the current state of scientific knowledge”.

Prime Minister Johnson vowed to ditch these rules on his first day in office.

He promised to liberate UK bioscience from EU rules on genetically modified crops.