Commercial concerns must be heard
UK Flour Millers has responded to the government consultation on the regulation of gene editing, a breeding technique that allows targeted changes to be made to plant or animal DNA.
We support the proposal to regulate this technology in the same manner as conventional breeding techniques, provided there is transparency by plant breeders as to when gene editing has been used to develop a variety.
Our response focused on the potential environmental benefits these techniques can offer, particularly around improving disease resistance. Reducing the need for pesticide applications and improving yields will reduce the need for imports.
However, there are commercial concerns that will need to be addressed if the change is approved. Gene-edited product is considered a genetically modified organism under EU law, and must therefore be labelled accordingly. But will this change by the time gene edited wheat hits the market? And what will be the implications for flour, or flour-based product, destined for export?
If the proposal is approved, the arrival of gene-edited commercial wheat varieties is still a number of years away, but it’s important these issues are considered early. UK Flour Millers will continue to monitor the situation in Europe and ensure members are aware of the implications for their businesses.