Beyond GM and GMWatch highlight unresolved problems with "incautious" and damaging legislation
The Westminster government's Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill, which will deregulate GMO technologies, was recently subjected to deep and thoughtful critique during the Committee stage in the House of Lords.
A raft of necessary and, in some cases crucial, amendments were put forward and several fundamental questions were put to the DEFRA Minister, Lord Benyon, which he was unable to answer at the time.
In a recent letter to all peers, dated 13 January 2023, he has attempted to answer some of these questions.
His answers selectively omit some important points raised in the House, while the answers to those he does address are generally inadequate and in some cases cause more confusion. Given the importance of this Bill and the upcoming Report stage, GMWatch has worked with Beyond GM to address some of these in an open letter, which is published here.
The letter begins, "We urge peers to continue to press the government for the necessary amendments to a bill that has been described by three government agencies (the Regulatory Policy Committee, the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee and the Constitution Committee) as 'not fit for purpose', 'unclear' and as failing to provide 'adequate justification' for delegated powers that the Bill confers. The Bill has also been widely criticised by stakeholder groups on scientific, legal and conceptual grounds and for its potential to strain the operation of the UK’s internal market and future trading with markets in the EU and Asia.
"As such, it is incautious and, in addition to any risks it poses to the UK’s farming and food system and its environment, may well damage the prospects and public perception of the technologies it claims to support."