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UK’s Leading Role in Shaping Regulation for Genetic Technologies

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A new report published by the Regulatory Horizons Council in September sets out how the UK could take a leading role in shaping regulation to allow innovative and safe products using genetic technologies to be commercialised.

The Regulatory Horizons Council (RHC) is an independent expert committee that identifies the regulation needed to foster technological innovation and provides government with impartial, expert advice on the regulatory reform required to support its rapid and safe introduction.

Genetic technologies involve understanding, making or adapting genetic material. These technologies create opportunities to transform agri-food systems through nutritionally healthier crop varieties, disease resistance, reduced insecticide and fungicide use, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improved climate resilience, and contributions to sustainability and biodiversity conservation.

The report supports the proposals of the recent government consultation in this area and builds on them by providing additional recommendations for what a new regulatory approach should look like over the longer term. It suggests the changes could significantly reduce the cost and time to market for new products, unlocking innovation in the development of plant and animal varieties that can benefit consumers, the environment and long-term economic growth in the UK.

It also points to how the UK could take advantage of its departure from the European Union to restructure regulation to make it more scientifically credible, proportionate to both risks and benefits, as well as providing more certainty to businesses looking to invest in these technologies.

The Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has written to the Regulatory Horizons Council welcoming the report, and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will respond in detail to its recommendations following the response to its consultation on this topic.