Dr Neil Hudson MP stood up in Parliament to support the Government’s new Genetic Technology Bill, designed to boost food security, animal health, public health and the rural economy.
Speaking at the second reading of the Precision Breeding Bill on Wednesday, the Member of Parliament for Penrith and The Border pointed to the wide-ranging benefits of new gene editing technologies that the legislation would enable.
Designed to overcome unnecessary barriers surrounding scientific study, the bill will help the UK’s world leading agricultural research institutions look into developing and marketing precision bred animals and plants.
This mean food producers will be able to grow more resistant, more nutritious, and more productive crops while also nurturing beneficial traits in livestock such as disease resistance.
As a veterinary surgeon and scientist, Dr Hudson’s expertise in the field informed his comments in the House of Commons. He pointed to the bill’s wide-ranging benefits from protecting the environment and public health to improving animal health and welfare and food security.
It is hoped the use of these innovative technologies will also drive economic growth and attract investment into the agri-food industry, centred around our countryside.
Speaking in Parliament, Dr Hudson said:
“I do not believe that people need to fear this technology. This is not about creating Frankenstein’s monster or introducing DNA from another species.
“From developing disease resistant crops to bird flu resistance in poultry to PRRS [porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome] resistance in pigs, there are significant benefits, including: for food security; for the environment; and importantly, for animal health and welfare.
“Ultimately, there are also significant benefits for public health, as we are reducing medicines and therefore tackling things such as antimicrobial resistance. Does the Secretary of State agree that, ultimately, this can be a win, win, win for food security, animals and people?”
Talking afterwards, Dr Hudson added:
“This is a truly innovative Bill with a myriad of benefits. Our laws need to reflect the rapidly evolving scientific work and here we have a chance to become a global powerhouse in food innovation. As a veterinary surgeon I am very happy to support this legislation. With the appropriate safeguards, this technology can be a force for good. This will be a huge boost for animal health and welfare.
“This is a great opportunity for our food producers and our country, and I was glad to be able to give my support to the Government on this.”
Commenting on the Bill, Environment Secretary, George Eustice, said:
“These precision technologies allow us to speed up the breeding of plants that have natural resistance to diseases and better use of soil nutrients so we can have higher yields with fewer pesticides and fertilisers.
“The UK has some incredible academic centres of excellence and they are poised to lead the way.”