Gene-edited tomato may soon be allowed for sale, stated recent reports, as a new bill to allow commercial growing of gene-edited crops in England got introduced today (25).
Speaking before the introduction of a bill on genetic technologies to the House of Lords, Prof Gideon Henderson said the legislation is aimed to create a simpler regulatory framework that would speed up the development and commercialisation of gene-edited products by allowing them to be treated differently to genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which in turn are subjected to strict regulation.
The regulation could have numerous benefits, from building crops that are more resistant, handling climate crises, pests and diseases and increasing crop yields, which could help to combat global hunger, Henderson said. It could also be used to create more nutritious crops, such as vitamin D-enriched tomatoes.
The Environment Secretary George Eustice told BBC News that the change in the law was necessary to combat the impact of climate change.
The technique is currently not used for food production in the UK because of rules set by the EU but due to Brexit, England may soon see the entry of gene-edited crops.
Relatively a recent technology, gene editing involves switching genes on and off by snipping out a small section of the plant’s DNA. The older technique of genetic modification involves putting genes in, sometimes from a completely different species.
Both methods are used in other countries to produce food. But the EU set stringent regulations on GM crops 25 years ago because of safety concerns and public opposition to the technology. Gene-edited crops are covered by the same regulations.