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UK considers allowing gene editing in agriculture

UK considers allowing gene editing in agriculture

 

The UK may increase its use of gene-edited crops now that it is out of the EU. The Financial Times reports that the British government is to begin a consultation on the matter, with the Department for Environment, Food  and  Rural  Affairs (Defra)  saying that gene editing held  potential major benefits such  as reducing dependence on pesticides, and argued the  process was distinct from  highly contentious genetic modification.

Environment secretary George Eustice presented a 10-week consultation into regulating gene editing differently from  GM, which would constitute a reverse of the EU policy. In 2018, the  European Court of Justice ruled that gene editing should be subject to the same tight regulations as GM.

Defra  said  that gene-edited organisms (using Crispr technology) did not include DNA introduced from  other species, but  instead “only produce changes that could  be made slowly using traditional breeding methods”. While EU rules do not ban  the  use  of GM and  gene-edited foods,  the  approval process is so stringent that only one GM crop, a pest-resistant corn, is currently grown commercially in the bloc.

Farming groups such  as the  National Farmers’ Union  have  lobbied for a more  liberal approach in the  UK after Brexit. 

 

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Robinson Fresh supports programme for Central American organic farming

Helping promote organic farming among family growers in Central America is the aim behind a 3-year agreement between Sustainable Harvest International and the Robinson Fresh organics brand, Tomorrow’s Organics.

Helping promote organic farming among family growers in Central America is the aim behind a 3-year agreement between Sustainable Harvest International and the Robinson Fresh organics brand, Tomorrow’s Organics.

In a press release, Robinson Fresh said Tomorrow’s Organics will help fund these efforts through an annual donation (of an unspecified amount) supported by carton sales of its organic produce.

Based in Monterey, California, the company said Central America is a region plagued by deforestation, soil erosion, and diminished economic opportunities, but one in which Sustainable Harvest International “connects with families to implement sustainable, organic farming techniques to eliminate the need for slash-and-burn farming and improve families’ well- being.”

“Tomorrow’s Organics’ alignment with Sustainable Harvest International is an essential mechanism to bring about positive economic change to these hard-working but impoverished families. It’s widely understood that healthy, thriving rainforests are imperative to keeping the air clean and healthy for every single one of us, around the globe,” said Hunter Winton, general manager of Robinson Fresh, West Region. “Each purchase of Tomorrow’s Organics will help improve living and working conditions for those whose natural environments are compromised.”

Since its start in 1997, Sustainable Harvest International has restored 15,000 acres to farmable land, increased program members’ agricultural income by an average of 23%, and worked with over 2,500 farm families.

“While our organization is small, we are making a big impact in the lives of individual farmers and on the planet. We commend Robinson Fresh for stepping up in a way that most companies don’t—by using their profit for good on a global scale. We urge consumers to see the value of this charitable partnership and in turn, choose the Tomorrow’s Organics brand when given the opportunity,” said Renée Johnson, executive director of Sustainable Harvest international.