Precision breeding, also know as gene editing, describes a range of techniques which can be used to make precise changes to an organism’s own DNA. It does not introduce DNA from other species, but offers a way of making safe and targeted beneficial changes which could have occurred more slowly naturally, or through conventional breeding techniques.

The FDF supports the use of technological solutions to help the competitiveness and sustainability of the food and drink supply chain. Precision breeding presents clear opportunities to underpin and encourage innovation but, alongside any decisions on appropriate regulation, it will be important for the UK Government to consider how to enable a framework that maintains our members’ ability to trade on a global platform.
For FDF members: Genetic Technologies (GT)


FDF Food Safety and Authenticity Report (members only) - March 2024

As one of the many FDF committees and groups for members' only access, the FDF offers a Genetic Technologies (GT) email alert group.

FDF committees and groups

The difference between gene editing and genetic modification

Gene editing, now commonly know as precision breeding, can produce plants which are identical to those which could have occurred naturally or through conventional breeding techniques.

Genetic modification however involves adding new DNA into the genome of an organism, producing changes which would not have occurred through conventional breeding techniques.

The Food Standards Agency has produced a helpful short video explaining ‘Genome Editing: What you need to know’.

The legislative framework which currently regulates all precision breeding technologies was developed primarily with genetic modification in mind and has not kept pace with significant technological advances in the area of precision breeding. 

The framework therefore does not reflect the differences in the range of techniques now available.  This has prompted the development of a new seperate legislative framework for precision bred organisms in England, as well as in the European Union (which developed the original legislation).

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The benefits of gene editing

Gene editing / precison breeding has the potential to bring significant benefits to the agri-food system by accelerating agricultural and plant resilience. It could make a positive contribution to a more sustainable food system, helping to:

  • ensure future food security, by improving crop yields and preventing crop failures.
  • reduce crop diseases, by breeding in resistance to certain pathogens or insect pests, also helping to reduce the need for pesticides or insecticides.
  • reduce food waste, by reducing spoiling and browning of foods, increasing their shelf life.
  • improve the nutritional profile of foods, for example, by increasing antioxidants, phenols and tannins in fruit and vegetables.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has produced a video on ‘How gene editing can benefit us’ which outlines some of the existing research in this area and the potential future benefits which gene editing could bring.

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Gene editing gets green light

The Queen's Speech announced plans to allow the gene editing of animals and crops in a bid to improve Britain’s agricultural productivity.

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