Gene-edited crops rich in omega 3 to be grown in UK for the first time

Mail Online | 5/23/2018 | Harry Pettit For Mailonline
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'Highly-experimental' gene-edited crops are set to be sown in Hertfordshire in a UK first this month after scientists exploited a legal loophole.

The field trial will investigate whether genetic engineering can produce super-crops rich in omega 3 oils to boost production of the food supplement.

Government - Farming - GE - Camelina - Crops

The government has approved the farming of gene-edited (GE) Camelina oilseed crops because, unlike genetically modified (GM) plants, they contain no 'foreign' DNA from other species.

Instead their genome is changed in ways that could have happened naturally or through traditional selective breeding methods.

Campaigners - Crops - Fields - Risks - Crop

However, green campaigners claim growing genetically engineered crops in fields risks reducing crop biodiversity and damaging the local ecosystem.

The decision was made as the European Court of Justice prepares to decide whether EU nations should treat GE plants as conventional or GM crops, according to the Telegraph.

Critics - Defra - Department - Environment - Food

Critics have accused Defra (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) of jumping the gun on a decision that could see GM-style regulation of GE plants.

Like traditional crop breeding, genome editing can create new varieties of plants with certain traits.

GE - Technology - Breeding - Development - Times

GE technology is more accurate than conventional natural breeding and can cut development times from decades to months.

Scientists at Rothamsted Research hope their trial will pave the way for a more sustainable way to produce omega 3 fish oil, a popular food supplement.

Research - Britain - Oil - Reserves - Stocks

They argue the research could help Britain maintain its fish oil reserves as ocean stocks dwindle, and help the country get a head start on GE technologies.

Experts have previously warned that genetically engineered crops could lead to a reduction in biodiversity.

Farmers - US - Pigs - GM - Plants

Farmers in the US have complained that pigs fed with GM plants have experienced stomach problems, though these reports are unconfirmed.

GE crops are produced using CRISPR, a new tool for making precise edits in DNA.

Scientists

While European scientists have...
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