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Is Boris Johnson Getting Cold Feet on GMO Deregulation Plans?

Pro-deregulation lobby is disappointed by lack of action on GMO commercialisation. Report: Claire Robinson and Jonathan Matthews

Given Boris Johnson's gung-ho enthusiasm for "liberating" GM crops and foods from EU rules, it's interesting to note that the Westminster government's first steps following the public consultation have been more tentative than many expected.

While we've seen reams of hype from the government on the supposedly miraculous powers of gene editing, the details of what is actually going to change in terms of the GMO regulations themselves are relatively low-key so far. Defra, the government department in charge of regulating genetic engineering in agriculture, said in a statement: "We will start by looking to ease some of the burdens which currently apply to research and development for gene edited plants, while maintaining the present regulatory system for animals and other organisms."

In other words, it has backed away, for the moment at least, from deregulating gene-edited livestock animals, despite press reports that that was precisely what it was going to do, and it has said nothing about rapid commercialisation of GMOs or even planting them in English fields, outside of what will now be unregulated trials for gene-edited crops.