Published on 1st March 2023
Seed & Establishment
Precision Breeding Act welcomed as positive watershed
The Precision Breeding Act has been welcomed as a positive watershed for the English food and farming industry and a valuable contribution to addressing the urgent global challenges of food security, climate change and sustainable development.
“Positive though it is, this week’s Royal Assent for the Act is only the start,” insists Head of Bayer Crop Science UK, Nils Bauer. “To take advantage of the tremendous opportunities for progress it offers, there is a lot of work to do to get both the secondary legislation governing precision breeding and the public understanding of it right.
“Plant breeding is one of the valuable tools we have in making our food production more economically and environmentally sustainable by producing more from less. The ability precision breeding techniques like genome-editing give us to meet sustainability outcomes with greater efficiency and accuracy of desirable changes entirely within a crop’s existing genetic building blocks is immense.”
“This is an important step for scientists and developers to explore a wide range of advances here alongside the yield increases that reduce the amount of land we need to produce our food, leaving more space for biodiversity and other eco-systems services. These include potentially better resistance to damaging pests and diseases to reduce the need for pesticides; greater nutrient use efficiencies to optimise fertiliser utilisation; superior resilience to stresses like drought and waterlogging for greater crop reliability; and targeted grain quality improvements for healthier, more nutritious foods and animal feeds.”
Bayer sees the new Act as a vital official recognition that precision breeding techniques are important, innovative tools in the farmers’ toolbox. This message is key to enabling the progress genetic technology offers through public acceptability as much as scientific endeavour and investment.
Nils Bauer - Head of Bayer Crop Science UK
“In addition to the Precision Breeding Act, we are equally encouraged to see the Government setting out its Science and technology Framework published on March 6. The new framework says, “The UK aims to leverage post-Brexit freedoms and set Regulation that is pro-innovation, stimulates demand for science and technology and attracts investment while representing UK values and safeguarding citizens.” This is a positive context within which to look at Research in the UK ,” adds Nils Bauer.
“The access to innovation the Precision Breeding Act can provide is a vital first step which we hope will see the country joining other world leaders in plant breeding. I must emphasise there is a lot of work to be done before the exciting potential it promises can be reached. To realize this potential, stakeholders across the farming, food chain and scientific community need to work as closely as possible together. ”