Gene-edited food can now be developed commercially in England. Supporters of the technology say it will speed up the development of hardier crops, 'essential in the light of climate change.' However, critics say that the change could be 'disastrous' to both food production and the environment.
The new law also opens the door to the development of gene-edited farm animals, but a further vote by MPs will be required before it is allowed, again only in England. The Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Irish governments have not permitted the commercial use of gene editing.
Gene editing in England had been covered under the same tight regulation that has restricted the commercial development of GM crops under EU law. Brexit has enabled the Westminster government to relax the rules for newer technology.
According to the chief scientific advisor for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Prof Gideon Henderson, the new rules will lead to better food production and bring jobs and investment to England.