Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum

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Next steps for gene-edited foods in England - policy & regulatory development | priorities for research, innovation & investment | intellectual property | contribution to food security & climate adaptation | safety & transparency | public attitudes

July 2024

Price: £150 PLUS VAT

This conference examined next steps for gene-edited food production in England, following the passing of the Genetic Technology Act in 2023 which has enabled the development of gene-edited plant production.

It was an opportunity to discuss key issues at a time of heightened focus on policy in the run up to the General Election.

As the FSA develops a new regulatory framework for precision-bred organisms, delegates discussed what the regulation for this innovative area should look like, including pre-market authorisation processes for products and managing risk, challenges with cross-border regulatory divergence, and implications for enforcement.

With new legislation and a regulatory framework in development, delegates assessed next steps for R&D of gene-edited food products, including priorities for utilising recent £15m funding over the next five years for Genetic Improvement Networks, tackling barriers to market development, addressing potential regulatory barriers and delivering certainty, and issues for intellectual property rights.

Attendees considered consumer priorities for gene-edited products, their awareness, understanding and appeal, and implications for the industry, as well as what is needed to address issues raised by stakeholders over product traceability and fairness across the supply chain in light of new legislation not requiring food labels to identify gene-edited products.

It was an opportunity to discuss challenges raised by stakeholders around food safety and the potential development of new toxins, as well as environmental concerns of harm to ecosystems and biodiversity.

Delegates also discussed the outlook for implementation of gene-editing technologies on animals, including priorities for improving disease resistance in livestock, and assessing the way forward to build the evidence-base and appropriate safeguards to support animal welfare, husbandry standards and veterinary surveillance.

The role of gene-editing in improving food security was also discussed, looking at opportunities for delivering climate change resilience and adaptation, as well as nutrition.

Keynote speakers who have agreed to take part include: Jack Bobo, Director, Food Systems Institute, University of Nottingham; Mark Buckingham, Corporate Engagement Leader UK&I, Bayer Crop Science; Jonny Hazell, Senior Policy Adviser, The Royal Society; Professor Jonathan Jones, Group Leader, The Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich UK; and Professor Steve Penfield, Programme Leader, John Innes Centre. We are re-confirming the availability of speakers in the pre-election period.

Overall, areas for discussion included:

  • policy: impact of approaches being developed through the Genetic Technology Act - what support and engagement with key stakeholders will be needed if ambitions are to be achieved
  • regulation: developing an evidence-based regulatory framework - priorities for consumer safety - addressing new toxin concerns - product traceability - managing risk - authorisation processes
  • sector priorities: expanding gene-edited food production - investment and licencing - public perceptions - food safety - IP rights issues for gene-edited animals and crops
  • consumers: awareness and understanding - trends in attitudes - food labelling needs - trust and transparency
  • food security: investment priorities - maximising potential for crop resilience - improving availability of food in the supply chain - adapting to climate change - minimising harm to ecosystems
  • R&I: funding and investment priorities - supporting investor confidence - developing the science and research base and a research notification system - increasing data accuracy

The conference was an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues in the presence of key policy officials who attended from APHA; Defra; FSA; FSS; MHRA; CMA; DSIT; DBT; GLD; DfE; DESNZ; Ofwat; POST; DAERA, NI; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government; as well as parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons.

This on-demand pack includes

  • A full video recording of the conference as it took place, with all presentations, Q&A sessions, and remarks from chairs
  • An automated transcript of the conference
  • Copies of the slides used to accompany speaker presentations (subject to permission
  • Access to on-the-day materialfs, including speaker biographies, attendee lists and the agenda