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House of Lords to debate gene editing


Changes to laws governing precision breeding techniques could be one step closer as the peers begin debating the new Agriculture Bill in the House of Lords. Currently in committee stage, once the Bill has completed its passage through the Lords an amended version will return to the House of Commons for further debate and amendment, probably in September.

One of the potential changes that will be debated in the Lords is a proposal to enable the government to make changes to the law in England in relation to breeding techniques after the UK leaves the EU. This would allow for regulation of new precision breeding techniques (gene editing) compatible with international definitions. Specifically, it would permit the development of varieties where such changes could have occurred through traditional breeding techniques.

Crucially, this is only an enabling amendment; the government would be required to undertake a public consultation before changing any of the definitions around what is and is not considered GM.

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