Moving towards precision breeding: UK enables plant breeding innovation

March 24, 2023

European seed sector


Plant breeding innovation

Euroseeds welcomes the UK’s approval of the precision breeding bill, to enable plant breeding to better contribute to address challenges such as climate change, food security, and sustainable farming.

The legislation aims to modernize England‘s agricultural sector by promoting new technologies and techniques, including precision breeding. While the EU is discussing the regulatory approach for New Genomic Techniques – NGTs (the EU term for precision breeding) since 2008, the UK managed to implement a differentiated and enabling regulatory approach within a few years after Brexit.

This is a hugely significant piece of legislation for Britain’s plant breeders, the first time in more than two decades that regulations have been brought forward which seek to enable and support the use of genetic innovation in agriculture – rather than to restrict or impose additional requirements, states BSPB (British Society of Plant Breeders). In doing so, it recognises the importance of plant breeding innovation in meeting future food needs sustainably.

“The UK’s approval of the bill on precision breeding is a welcome development that reflects the country’s commitment to science-based policymaking and innovation,” said Garlich von Essen, Secretary General of Euroseeds.

The precision breeding bill aligns the UK with the growing number of countries around the world that take a differentiated and enabling regulatory approach on NGTs, not regulating conventional-like NGT products as GMOs. With this the UK is in a competitive advantage to researchers, breeders and farmers in the European Union.

“We encourage the European Commission to put forward a proposal that aligns with the approach taken in UK and other countries. This would allow plant breeding to efficiently support the EU Green Deal and its Farm to Fork strategy and to stay competitive, concludes von Essen.