Experts welcome planned laws on the use of genetic technology, but say growing global crises demand urgent action
On 24 July 2019, Boris Johnson stood outside 10 Downing Street and delivered his first speech as prime minister. Among the many pledges he made was a promise that he was going “to liberate the UK’s extraordinary bioscience sector from anti-genetic modification rules”. Such a move would allow the nation to “develop the blight-resistant crops that will feed the world”, he added.
Almost three years later, Johnson’s government has eventually got round to outlining, in last week’s Queen’s speech, how it hopes to achieve this goal. This will be done through the forthcoming genetic technology (precision breeding) bill. The proposed legislation has been welcomed by leading UK biologists, although they also warned last week that a long battle lies ahead before UK plant and animal science is at a stage to save the world.