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Volume 716: debated on Thursday 23 June 2022

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has one of the five largest science and innovation budgets in Government. It is investing £270 million in innovation through the farming innovation programme to 2029, working with our leading-edge agricultural research institutions across the UK’s four nations to harness the power of innovation.

The advocate-general of the European Union recommended gene editing, but the European Court of Justice opposed it and put it in the same category as genetically modified organisms. Professor Nigel Halford said that

“the decision could set back agbiotech in Europe by another 20 years. We are already a generation behind. Young scientists interested in agbiotech are likely to move to places where common sense and scientific evidence prevail”.

In the name of better productivity, healthier food and scientific progress, when does my hon. Friend expect to see gene-edited crops on the UK market?

The EU has just opened a consultation on the issue, because my hon. Friend is totally right that precision-bred crops are very different. We have already taken steps, starting with the introduction of the Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill, which will go into Committee very shortly. Through its agricultural research institutes, the UK is at the leading edge. There will be overwhelming benefits for climate change, food resilience, pest resistance and so on. I look forward to the Bill receiving support across the House, going through Committee and going on to the other place.