Viewpoint: Crop gene editing can speed post-Brexit UK’s COVID-19 economic recovery

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Economic recovery after COVID post-Brexit will need the UK to be able to develop existing industries in new markets, fast.

One area where the UK will have a significant competitive advantage over the EU once outside is in scientific innovation – in particular the application of genetic technology to agriculture. The UK’s research institutes are leaders in their fields, but EU membership and an excess of the application of “precautionary principle” stifles our global influence.

The potential range of applications could have huge public health bonuses.

But the market for improved agricultural technology is massive. Much of it lies in emerging economies across Africa and South East Asia. Countries like Uganda and Bangladesh are keen for the UK to take a lead in pioneering new technologies. It will open up access to markets for them, to improve the application of their own science.

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And as subsistence farmers increase yields and savings and go on to become successful sellers of produce, there will be more customers for the sort of small tractors the UK is particularly skilled at building.

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