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The UK’s National Institutes of Bioscience advocate rational development of plant and animal breeding regulation in the EU

In a Correspondence piece published in Nature (Nature 521, 423, the National Institutes of Bioscience endorse the Editorial piece published on the 8th April: http://www.nature.com/news/seeds-of-change-1.17267 .

Prof David Hume, Chair of the National Institutes of Bioscience, draws attention to the position statement issued by the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC): New genetic techniques for crop improvement http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/documents/genetic-crop-improvement-position-statement-pdf/ in October 2014.

This document describes the techniques that are already widely used in research laboratories and highlights the limitations of the current EU regulatory system for new crops, which focuses on the method used to produce a new crop (and potentially animal) varieties rather than on the benefits of the genetic trait being introduced.

Experts in the application of these technologies from within the UK National Institutes of Bioscience contributed to this statement. The strategic research programmes of NIB members address global challenges such as Climate Change and Food Security through the development of crop varieties with improved characteristics, such as drought tolerance, disease resistance and enhanced nutrient content. Improvements in the resilience and productivity of livestock species are also in the pipeline. However, the socio-economic impact of this work will be stalled without the appropriate legislation.

The skill-base and expertise within the National Institutes of Bioscience places the UK in a strong position to take the lead in efforts to ensure that the best policy decisions are being made in Europe and world-wide so that technologies that have potential societal and environmental benefits can be translated into practice in a timely manner.