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UK Changes Some Gene-Edited Crop Rules

With the passage of a new law, crops that have undergone gene editing to have less of an environmental impact or be more healthful may be ready for sale in the UK within five years, New Scientist reports.

In September, George Eustice, the environment secretary, announced that the UK would be making changes in the wake of Brexit to its regulations surrounding gene-edited crops. The European Union, the Financial Times noted then, treats gene editing like other genetic modifications and strictly regulates it. According to the New Scientist, the new UK rules separate out gene editing from other genetic modifications, and the Guardian notes researchers studying such crops now only have to notify the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of a field test.

Gideon Henderson, the chief scientific officer of the UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, tells New Scientist that it would be about five years before any product from one of these trials would make it to the store. He adds there that another law change is needed so that gene-edited food can be grown and sold, and he suspects that crops will be first, followed by livestock.