Today, MPs will debate the Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill in the House of Commons.

Earlier this month, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics published the findings of a joint public dialogue with BBSRC and Sciencewise which helped to broaden out the debate around ‘genome editing’ as a technology, to its potential to impact our food and farming system.  

In the dialogue, members of the public discussed the potential of genome editing to address major challenges such as animal diseases, environmental impact of food production, and food security.

One main finding from the dialogue is that people want to be assured that regulation of precision breeding technologies such as genome editing in farming will help to promote outcomes that benefit society as a whole and support animal welfare.

During the Committee Stage of the Bill which took place in June, our Associate Director, Pete Mills gave evidence in person to the Committee, making the case that the Bill should include a framework for acceptable uses of precision breeding.

Commenting ahead of today’s Bill debate, Director of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, Danielle Hamm, said:

"Our public dialogue showed that members of the public want to see the Government set out a positive overarching plan for the future of food and farming and within that they want to see genome editing technology used to benefit society and promote animal welfare.  

This Bill will set the rules on how this technology is used. Government needs to hear these important public perspectives and ensure that the right checks and balances are in place to promote the ethical use of this technology, rather than leaving it to market forces alone."