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Gene Editing Regulations Reconsidered

The UK is to consider changing how gene-edited crops and livestock are regulated, the Financial Times reports, adding that the move would be a "significant" departure from European Union policy.

George Eustice, the UK secretary of state for environment, food, and rural affairs, announced yesterday a 10-week plan to examine regulating gene editing differently from genetic modifications, according to FT. In 2018, the European Court of Justice ruled gene editing is a type of genetic modification and, as such, is subject to strict regulations. But following its departure from the EU, the UK is re-thinking how gene-edited crops and livestock might be regulated, FT adds.

According to the Guardian, a number of scientists have praised the consultation. "As well as improving animals' ability to respond to disease, gene editing could also be used to create fitter, healthier animals with higher standards of animal welfare," Mick Watson from the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh tells it. "[This] could place cutting-edge technology at the heart of UK livestock improvement."

However, others worry that changing the regulations could harm animal welfare, particularly if gene-editing is used to develop disease-resistant livestock that are then kept in overcrowded conditions, the Guardian adds.