UK pig industry backs EU genome editing report: ‘This is a positive step forward’

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/vchal
© GettyImages/vchal

Related tags genome editing disease resistance ASF

The UK’s National Pig Association (NPA) has welcomed a recently published report by the European Commission that it hopes could pave the way for genome editing to be used commercially in the EU.

The study on New Genomic Techniques (NGTs), which alter the genome of an organism in plant and animal breeding, concluded that the technology has the potential to contribute to a more sustainable food system under the European Green Deal and Farm to Fork Strategy.

It also finds that the current GMO legislation, adopted in 2001, is ‘not fit for purpose for these innovative technologies’ and is hampering research in the EU, with most development taking place outside the EU.

The Commission will now start a ‘wide and open consultation process’ to discuss the design of a new legal framework for these biotechnologies.

NPA senior policy adviser Rebecca Veale said: "This could be a really positive step forward because European legislation on this is the most restrictive by far – with the UK and other countries also looking at the policy around genetic technologies we hope that we’ll be able to take advantage of the opportunities these technologies offer and there will be more cohesion globally.

"The big question is, however, whether, at EU and UK level, they can agree on a sensible new regulation.”

Disease resistance

Genome editing has the potential to deliver a range of benefits in plant and animal breeding and for wider society, the NPA highlighted.

The technology, it noted, has already been used at research level to breed pigs with resistance to porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) and African swine fever (ASF).

Research institutes, companies, cooperatives and associations of EFFAB and FABRE TP that are working in animal breeding and reproduction in Europe are “all convinced that novel animal breeding techniques (NABTs) like genome editing can provide efficient additional tools to increase the sustainability of the animal breeding sector.”

Related topics Regulation Swine Europe Non-GMO

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