The British government has announced that it wants to pave the way in England for the cultivation of plants genetically modified with the technique of so-called mutagenesis in order to be more resistant and more nutritious, a plan that was made possible by Brexit.
The technique of mutagenesis is different from genetic modification because it modifies the genome without introducing a gene of a different species. Under European law, this new technique also applies to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and is therefore subject to the same rules.
Britain's exit from the European Union allows the government to relax the rules in order to facilitate research and development, avoiding lengthy and costly licensing procedures.
According to the government, this technique could lead to the creation of, for example, varieties of sugar beet resistant to the virus, which would reduce the need to resort to chemical pesticides.
"Gene surgery is" a tool that can help us address some of the biggest challenges we face in terms of food security, climate change and biodiversity loss, "Environment Minister George Justis said in a statement.
"Having left the EU, we can encourage innovation to help grow plants that are stronger and more resilient to climate change. "We are working closely with agricultural and environmental organizations to ensure that the right rules are in place."
The decision was made despite the results of a public consultation which showed that 87% of respondents expressed fears about this technique. Liz O'Neill, director of GM Freeze, which opposes genetically modified foods, fears Britain will abandon a common safety net.
The government also plans to look at regulating GMOs in the longer term. He emphasized that genetically modified foods would only be allowed to be marketed if they were not considered to be a health hazard.