The Foods Standards Agency (FSA) is seeking views on proposals for a new framework that will regulate the use of precision bred organisms (PBOs) for food and animal feed.
Precision breeding is a way of changing the DNA of plants or animals in a precise way, using techniques including gene-editing. Gene-editing uses specialised enzymes to cut DNA at specific points. These changes must be equivalent to those that could have been made using traditional plant or animal breeding methods.
This makes precision breeding different to genetic modification. Genetic modification is when genes from one plant or animal species are inserted into another unrelated species in a way that is not possible using traditional breeding methods.
Precision breeding can have many practical applications for food production, by introducing desirable traits in crops and livestock that could otherwise take many years to develop. This could include improving the nutritional content of plants or making crops more resistant to disease.
Currently there are no crops or animals resulting from precision breeding technology that have been authorised for sale as food or animal feed in the UK.
The Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Act 2023 became law in England (only) in March. The Act provides for the creation of a new regulatory framework in England for the pre-market authorisation of precision bred organisms for use in food and animal feed and its enforcement.
Due to the operation of the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 and the Windsor Framework there are implications for the other UK nations as set out in the consultation.
It is available on the FSA website, and responses are required by 8 January 2024, preferably using the online consultation form. Alternatively, you can respond via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
A consultation pack is also available, which provides background information
The FSA aim to publish a summary of responses received within three months of the consultation closing.