The Precision Breeding Bill will boost investment in plant innovation in the UK | So Good News


New legislation to be debated by MPs on 31 October could help unlock the UK’s global leadership in plant genetics research and stimulate innovation in agriculture to tackle today’s most pressing challenges – developing high-yielding, nutritious and resilient crops. climate change and less dependent on pesticides or fertilizers.

The NIAB for Crops has welcomed the return of the Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill to the Commons stage and is calling on MPs to support the Bill’s ambition to drive innovation and investment in the agri-food sector and open up new opportunities for research organisations. enterprises.

NIAB Director General Prof. Mario Caccamo said the introduction of the bill has led to positive conversations between NIAB and prospective research partners and commercial investors.

“We are already seeing increased interest in research investment and strategic partnerships in the UK, precisely as a result of the Selection Bill, and it shows that the UK regulatory framework is set on a trajectory that is more supportive of innovation. The main thing is that this interest comes not only from domestic investors, but also from abroad.

“This could be a turning point for UK innovation in plant genetics. Over the past 20 years, the direction of investment in crop production has been in one direction – from the UK to regions of the world such as North and South America, which have adopted favorable regulatory regimes.

“During this time, the UK has maintained its leadership in basic plant genetics and gene research. This new legislation could help complement the private sector investments needed to unlock potentially significant advances in sustainable agricultural systems, improved nutrition and climate resilience,” he said.

Professor Caccamo highlighted a number of NIAB research projects involving gene editing whose prospects for commercial application will be enhanced by the Bill’s provisions, including celiac-safe wheat, improving nitrogen and water use efficiency in wheat, and altering flowering time in strawberries. domestic growing season.

He added that greater access to technologies such as gene editing will enhance NIAB’s efforts to unlock the genetic potential of neglected grains such as peas, faba beans and soybeans to provide a homegrown protein source with benefits for sustainable agriculture. nutrition and climate change.

“The focus of gene editing research at NIAB is to help develop crop and agricultural systems that are less dependent on chemical pesticides and fertilizers and reduce the impact of agriculture on climate change. “These are all important goals that span the political spectrum for which new breeding technologies can offer real solutions,” said Prof. Cacamo. “I would call the deputies to support the bill. Given the pace of climate change and the security of global supply chains, there is no time to waste.”

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