Technology council outlines how UK could lead genetic tech governance

A new report by the Regulatory Horizons Council, an independent committee identifying the implications of technological innovation, has set out how the UK could take a leading role in shaping regulation for genetic technologies.

The committee provides the government with impartial advice on the regulatory reform needed to support the introduction of new technologies.

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.

The paper 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.

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.

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