Civil society to MPs: The gene editing bill must be amended

June 10, 2022 by Staff Writer

Groups and individuals from UK civil society issued a joint statement today urging MPs to take urgent steps to amend and strengthen the draft Genetic Technologies (Precision Breeding) Bill.

The 34 signatories, representing a broad range of food, farming, animal welfare, human health, environmental, academic, ethical and spiritual interests say the bill, which has its second reading in the House of Commons on Tuesday 14 June, goes too far in deregulating gene editing technologies and removes key protections and citizen’s right to choose.

The statement reads:

Email your MP now! Write to your MP before Tuesday 14 June using Beyond GM’s e-action page, and demand they make the substantial revisions required to restore the robust regulation of GMOs in the UK.

“On Wednesday, 15 June, the bill to deregulate most genetic engineering technologies in farming and food will have its second reading in the House of Commons. This bill represents a significant change in the law and has huge implications for farming, food, animal welfare, the environment, the UK’s internal market and its trading relationships with key global markets. It is clear that, in its haste to deregulate, the Government has not adequately considered these implications.

“Crucially, the bill proposes to remove all requirements of traceability, including labelling, from these technologies. If it passes in its current form, no-one—including farmers, businesses and citizens—will be able to exercise the right to choose whether or not to use, purchase or consume the products of these technologies. All surveys, polls and consultations show that people and businesses in the UK—whether or not they are supportive of agricultural genetic technologies—believe these technologies and their products should be regulated, traceable and labelled.

“Denying the right to choose undermines trust in the food system and in innovation and technology. We are concerned that too few MPs have grasped the full implications of the bill and that, as a result, it could pass into law without the full debate and major revisions it requires. We urge our parliamentarians to take steps to prevent this from happening.”

You can read the full statement here.

Pat Thomas, Director of Beyond GM said: “The government’s entire plan of action around agricultural GMOs has been a process of writing press releases that make overblown promises and then trying to figure out how to make policy and regulation fit those promises afterwards. This bill is the result. Through sleight of hand, it renames GMOs ‘Precision Bred Organisms (PBOs) and then seeks to hide them in the food and farming system by removing labelling and key citizen and environmental protections. This is not the way to legislate and certainly, when it comes to food and farming, we need policy and regulation that puts food at its centre rather than pushing it to the fringes of a poorly defined innovation agenda.”

Take Action

She urges citizens to write to their MPs using Beyond GM’s e-action page, and demand they pay attention to the deficits of the bill and make the substantial revisions required to restore the robust regulation of GMOs in the UK.

 

  • Since the joint statement was issued on Jun 10, four further organisations have added their support.
  • The joint statement will remain open to signatories throughout the passage of the bill and we will update this page regularly to reflect new sign-ons.