Post-Brexit UK will follow EU GMO, gene-edited crop rules, but long-term regulatory divergence still possible

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On 1 February, responsibility for approving novel foods passes from the European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) to the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) but the processes will effectively remain aligned for the time being.

“Essentially nothing changes, as far as we’re concerned, at least in the short term,” Professor Peter Gregory, chair of the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes which advises the FSA on novel foods, said. “There’s going to be a continuing need for proportionate assessment of new foods entering into the market to protect consumers and support the development of new markets ….

Huw Jones, professor of translational genomics at Aberystwyth University, said “there is an opportunity for the UK to look at how these regulations work” in relation to new scientific discovery and research in areas such as gene editing, genomics, plant-based and cell-based biotechnology ….

Related article:  Ethiopia remains a net food importer, despite its rich farming history. Can GMO crops help?

Adhering as closely as possible to the EU’s precautionary approach in key areas would be the lower-risk option …. However, comments made recently by UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid …. stressing there would “not be alignment” with EU rules post-Brexit …. [suggest] predictions that the Johnson government will prioritize divergence over trade friction are well founded.

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