Oxford biologists remark on new laws that will enable critical technologies to strengthen the food security of the United Kingdom, cut pesticide usage, and improve the climate resilience of our crops.
Today, the Genetic Technologies (Precision Breeding) Act was signed into law, marking a significant milestone in fostering development and innovation in new technologies, bolstering food security in the face of climate change, and ensuring that England becomes a global leader in agri-food innovation.
Prominent plant and animal experts from the University of Oxford’s Department of Biology reacted on the revelation and its implications for the nation’s food security.
Biologists from Oxford react on the new Genetic Technologies Act
Department of Biology and principal author of the UK Plant Science Research Strategy, Jane Langdale, states:
“This very welcome Act opens the potential to bring speedier and more sustainable answers to the difficulties facing agriculture today, from the development of more robust and nutritious food crops to the reduction of the sector’s carbon emissions.” The recent salad and vegetable shortages in Europe due to weather changes demonstrate the fragility of our food supply systems. The Legislation lays the path for the expedited delivery of new products to farmers.
The Act would enable farmers to cultivate drought- and disease-resistant crops, minimize their use of fertilizers and pesticides, and breed animals that are immune to contracting infectious illnesses. Precision breeding is the use of technology such as gene editing to modify the genetic code of organisms, therefore developing desirable qualities in plants that would have taken decades to acquire through conventional breeding. This enables scientists to design flexible, adaptive, and abundant foods that are safe for consumption in the future.
Lord John Krebs, Emeritus Professor of Zoology in the Department of Biology and current member of the Science and Technology Select Committee of the House of Lords, states:
This law is great news for science, industry, and consumers in the United Kingdom. Thank you to the scientists at Oxford, The John Innes Centre, The Sainsbury Laboratory, and The Roslin Institute for their patience and assistance in briefing peers on the science of precision breeding.
Professor of Plant Sciences at the Department of Biology and co-founder of Wild Bioscience, Steve Kelly, states:
The difficulty of ensuring a sustainable future for mankind and expanding habitat for animals has never been higher in the history of civilization. This Act gives entrepreneurs in the United Kingdom with unprecedented ability to address this problem, therefore protecting the global food supply and minimizing the environmental effect of agriculture.
Lars stergaard, Sherardian Professor of Botany in the Biology Department, states:
This Act is a significant step forward and will allow humanity to benefit from recent game-changing scientific and technical advancements, since there is an urgent need for new solutions to solve global concerns related to sustainable food production.
Among the opportunities that this law will create for our British crops are:
Wheat from the Netherlands that is celiac-safe due to the application of precision breeding technology to eliminate the portion of wheat’s DNA that causes coeliac disease symptoms.
Extended strawberry seasons in Britain. This might be accomplished through the use of precise breeding techniques to create strawberry plants that are designed for continuous flowering and prolonged growing seasons.
Climate-resilient lettuce that reduces food waste caused by warmer growing seasons.
Energy-enhanced animal feed that lowers the environmental effect of animal feed production while preserving the nutritious content necessary for productivity.
Nicholas Harberd, Sibthorpian Professor of Plant Science at the Biology Department, states:
The passage of this act into law today allows agricultural scientific knowledge in the United Kingdom to improve global food security and environmental sustainability.
John MacKay, Wood Professor of Forest Science in the Biology Department, states:
The capacity to apply these new technologies paves the way for a more logical utilization of natural variety in response to environmental change, new learning, and new governance models. It opens up a variety of possibilities, including more sustainable wood and fiber crops that are resistant to invading pests.