Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Mairi McAllan: Opening way to gene editing is ‘hurried post-Brexit regulation’

Mairi McAllan answered questions about gene editing (Fraser Bremner)
Mairi McAllan answered questions about gene editing (Fraser Bremner)

The UK Government is “hurriedly pursuing post-Brexit deregulation” with its Bill on gene-editing in the food sector, Scotland’s Environment Minister has said.

Mairi McAllan responded to questions in Holyrood on Tuesday on her approach to gene editing.

The Conservatives say her opposition to gene editing goes against scientific consensus and accused her of “simply waiting for the EU” to make a decision.

The Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill was introduced earlier this month at Westminster and would create a separate regulatory category for gene editing – a practice which can change traits within a plant or animal much more quickly than traditional selective breeding.

Harvesting
The Tories said the SNP are ‘holding back farmers’ (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Officials and scientists draw a distinction between gene editing, which involves the manipulation of genes within a single species or genus, and genetic modification, in which DNA from one species is introduced to another.

She said: “The use of genetic technologies is a complex and emotive area.

“Indeed, the UK government’s own public consultation last year saw the public reject the changes that they are now pursuing.

“So, while I am closely following scientific and other considerations on the decoupling of genetic modification and editing, our position hasn’t changed.”

Scottish Conservative MSP Rachael Hamilton said the minister was conflating the issues of gene editing and GMOs.

Referring to comments from Professor Anne Glover, she said: “The minister would seemingly prefer to wait for the EU to tell them what to do.

“But surely when their own former chief scientific adviser says that they’re out of kilter with scientific evidence, does the minister not agree that she should have a serious rethink on the SNP’s position and stop holding our farmers back?”

Ms McAllan said she held Prof Glover “in the highest regard”.

She said she would consider not just the scientific implications but also the economic, ethical and philosophical issues as well.

The minister said: “Those are exactly the issues that I am considering.

“Unlike the UK Government, who are hurriedly pursuing this post-Brexit deregulation.”