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Harpenden, 8 Jan,2024

The Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Act (2023) is a ground-breaking law, the first time in more than 20 years that legislation has been brought forward which seeks to enable the use of genetic innovation in agriculture. It opens up major opportunities to deliver on the Government’s policy objectives for a healthier, safer and more sustainable food supply.  Rothamsted Research has previously made public its support for this seismic shift in regulation and we were pleased to contribute evidence to advance this change. We are now equally happy to provide our input into the Food Standard Agency’s consultation on how best to implement the Act with respect to food and feed marketing. 

Rothamsted Research believes that precision bred organisms (PBOs), as defined by the Act, (such as the gene-edited wheat and camelina being trialled on our farm) are not GMOs and as such, should not be subject to the same over-burdensome regulation that has hindered the deployment of GM crops. The overwhelming scientific consensus is that the products of precision breeding pose no greater risks than products obtained through conventional breeding methods. Globally, PBOs are poised to become a significant part of the feed and food chain.

We believe that PBOs will play a key role in helping the planet face the multiple challenges confronting us all, including resilience to ever-increasingly volatile climate change and food security (including improved nutrition and safer food).  However, this will only be possible if the regulatory pathway for the implementation of the Genetic Technology Act is appropriately enabling. In that respect, we broadly welcome the approach proposed by the FSA, which builds on the science-led approach adopted by Defra in their certification of PBO status. 

We would emphasise the importance of ensuring clarity for developers, to ensure that useful innovations advance from prototype to product in a timely and economically viable fashion. Vague and open-ended requirements for regulatory dossiers represent significant impediments to commercialisation and should be avoided, not least of all given the scientific consensus on the safety of PBOs. 

It is critical that the FSA’s implementation of the Genetic Technology Act embraces the spirit of this legislation to enable both innovation and economic development.


Prof. Angela Karp


Prof. Johnathan Napier

Omega-3 Camelina Development

Prof. Nigel Halford

Crop Scientist


Rothamsted Research is the longest-running agricultural research institute in the world. We work from gene to field with a proud history of ground-breaking discoveries in areas as diverse as crop management, statistical interpretation and soil health. Our founders, in 1843, were the pioneers of modern agriculture, and we are known for our imaginative science and our collaborative approach to developing innovative farm practice.
Through independent research, we make significant contributions to improving agri-food systems in the UK and internationally, with economic impact estimated to exceed £3 bn in annual contribution to the UK economy. Our strength lies in our systems approach, which combines strategic research, interdisciplinary teams and multiple partnerships.
Rothamsted is home to three unique National Bioscience Research Infrastructures which are open to researchers from all over the world: The Long-Term Experiments, Rothamsted Insect Survey and the North Wyke Farm Platform.
We are strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), with additional support from other national and international funding streams, and from industry. We are also supported by the Lawes Agricultural Trust (LAT).


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.
BBSRC invests to push back the frontiers of biology and deliver a healthy, prosperous and sustainable future. Through our investments, we build and support a vibrant, dynamic and inclusive community which delivers ground-breaking discoveries and develops bio-based solutions that contribute to tackling global challenges, such as sustainable food production, climate change, and healthy ageing.
As part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), we not only play a pivotal role in fostering connections that enable the UK’s world-class research and innovation system to flourish – we also have a responsibility to enable the creation of a research culture that is diverse, resilient, and engaged.
BBSRC proudly forges interdisciplinary collaborations where excellent bioscience has a fundamental role. We pioneer approaches that enhance the equality, diversity, and inclusion of talent by investing in people, infrastructure, technologies, and partnerships on a global scale.


The Lawes Agricultural Trust, established in 1889 by Sir John Bennet Lawes, supports Rothamsted Research’s national and international agricultural science through the provision of land, facilities and funding. LAT, a charitable trust, owns the estates at Harpenden and Broom's Barn, including many of the buildings used by Rothamsted Research. LAT provides an annual research grant to the Director, accommodation for nearly 200 people, and support for fellowships for young scientists from developing countries. LAT also makes capital grants to help modernise facilities at Rothamsted, or invests in new buildings.