The regulation of genetic technologies

Closed 17 Mar 2021

Opened 7 Jan 2021


This consultation is about the regulation of genetic technologies.

It mainly focuses on the regulation of gene edited (GE) organisms possessing genetic changes which could have been introduced by traditional breeding. This is covered in part 1 of the consultation.

In part 2 of the consultation, we are using this opportunity to engage separately and start gathering views on the wider regulatory framework governing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Depending on the results of part 1, Defra may change the legislation to amend the definition of a GMO as it applies in England. Currently GMOs are defined in section 106 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990[1].  This would mean that this legislation does not apply to organisms produced by gene editing (GE) and other genetic technologies if they could have been developed using traditional breeding methods.

The responses from part 2 of the consultation will be used to inform policy development and stakeholder engagement plans on any potential wider GMO reform.

[1] as amended by regulation 4 of the Genetically Modified Organisms (Deliberate Release) Regulations 2002 (SI 2002/2443); techniques of GM are described in regulation 5 of that SI

Why your views matter

EU legislation controlling the use of GMOs was retained in the UK at the end of the transition period (after 31 December 2020). This retained legislation requires that all GE organisms are classified as GMOs irrespective of whether they could be produced by traditional breeding methods[1]. Defra’s view is that organisms produced by GE or by other genetic technologies should not be regulated as GMOs if they could have been produced by traditional breeding methods. Leaving the EU provides an opportunity to consult on the implications of addressing this issue. We recognise there is a spectrum of opinions on these topics, and we are consulting to provide an opportunity for all views to be shared.

We welcome your response to the questions in this consultation and thank you in advance for providing your views.

How to respond

The consultation document is available to view and download at the bottom of this page. You should refer to it when providing your response.

We encourage respondents to provide not just their opinions but also the supporting facts and reasoning to inform the evidence base for the development of final proposals.

Please respond by 23:59 on Wednesday 17 March 2021.

You can provide your response via the online survey by clicking the button below. You can also respond by email: or by post to the address below:

Consultation Coordinator, Defra, 2nd Floor, Foss House, Kings Pool, 1-2 Peasholme Green, York, YO1 7PX

In accordance with standard principles we intend to publish a response to the consultation within 3 months of it closing.

[1] C-528/16 - Confédération paysanne and Others



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