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for a responsible, fair & sustainable food system

Action: Let Defra know that gene editing needs to be properly regulated

The UK government recently 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. Deregulation would remove essential protections for people, animals and the environment as well as our right to choose what we are buying and eating.

Please use our full guide to respond by Wednesday 17 March 2021

Illustration of gene editing

However, if can only spare five minutes, please:

  • Send an email to consultationreply@defra.gov.uk
  • Use “Consultation on the Regulation of Genetic Technologies” as the subject line and introduce your email by saying that you are submitting a contribution to the consultation.
  • Include your name, email address, where you live (eg England) and whether you are responding as an individual, a business or in some other capacity.
  • If you are happy to do so, say that your contribution is NOT confidential. This will help ensure that key points are included in the government report on the consultation.
  • Include the following basic answers to the consultation questions, adapting them a little if you have time.
Part 1, question 1

YES, anything produced with gene editing should continue to be subject to genetic modification regulations.

Part 1, question 2

GREATER RISK. Plants, animals and micro-organisms produced by any kind of genetic engineering are more risky for human health and the environment than those created through traditional breeding, because of the way they were produced.

Part 1, question 3

YES, there are lots of non-safety issues to consider if organisms produced by gene editing or other genetic technologies were not regulated as GMOs. It would be hard to trade with countries that do treat them as GM (including in Europe) and having different rules in England vs Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would be very difficult to manage. I am concerned about the effects of gene editing on animal welfare and contamination of non-GM farms and food supplies. Also, if it is not regulated, how would I know if it was in the food that I am buying?

Part 1, question 4

It does not matter whether an organism produced through gene editing could, in theory, have been produced by traditional breeding – the point is that it was not. All forms of genetic engineering should be properly regulated, especially when it comes to our food.

Part 2, question 1

a) Cultivation of crop plants – NO, existing non-GM legislation is insufficient and additional regulation is needed.

b) Breeding farmed animals – NO, existing non-GM legislation is insufficient and additional regulation is needed.

c) Human food – NO, existing non-GM legislation is insufficient and additional regulation is needed.

d) Animal feed – NO, existing non-GM legislation is insufficient and additional regulation is needed.

e) Human and veterinary medicines – NO, existing non-GM legislation is insufficient and additional regulation is needed.

f) Other sectors/activities – NO, existing non-GM legislation is insufficient and additional regulation is needed.

Part 2, question 2

Existing GM regulations are a good starting point and should be triggered by the use of any form of genetic engineering. In addition, there should be a proper assessment of the social, ethical and economic impacts of gene editing, including the use of patents. Ordinary people should have a proper say in what is allowed.

After submitting your contribution, keep an eye out for a confirmation email. Some people have received an email asking them to reply in order to have their contribution included in the consultation.

The consultation closes on Wednesday 17 March 2021 – remember to have your say before then.