Will the Public Consultation On Deregulating GMOs Deliver?

Updated: Mar 4, 2021

"Public consultation.”

Two words destined to send most people desperately scrolling for videos of cats doing funny things, or lists of the top 10 ‘must eat’ lockdown comfort foods.

And yet public consultations have meaning – or at least they should. On 7 January the UK government launched a public consultation into the deregulation of crops and farm animals created using gene editing.

Gene editing is a new and largely experimental genetic engineering technology. We don’t know what its uses or impacts on health or the environment might be. This is because only two gene-edited crops are being grown commercially anywhere in the world: a herbicide-tolerant oilseed rape (SU Canola) and a soybean with an altered fatty acid profile. Both have had only very limited uptake in North America.