Many years ago, the EU rejected the placing on the market of Genetically Modified Crops – but still allowed imports such as soybean from the US. This soybean is fed to most of the animals we eat. So, our farmers could not grow, nor reap the financial and environmental benefits of the reduced chemical requirements which US farmers benefitted from – as did farmers in many other countries). So why did this happen? Safety? Nobody has died or become hurt because of eating GM food. Big business? Possibly. No obvious consumer benefits? For those of us working in the area it was a huge shock. We thought we were doing the right thing by farmers and the public, reducing the need for pesticides.
In March 2023, a UK Bill received Royal Assent, allowing precision bred (gene-edited) crops to be separately treated from GMOs, paving the way for a new generation of environmentally superior crops. The situation in Europe is still being debated and here in the UK we are still waiting for the legislation to pass. I hope to show that gene-editing is a benign technology, building on the mutations which have resulted in all of today’s crops. I also will demonstrate how it is different to genetic modification – and more importantly, some of the benefits we can expect from precision breeding.
Dr Tina Barsby OBE is a Bangor alumna and plant geneticist renowned for her scientific achievements and experience in the agricultural crop sector. She is the former director and CEO of the National Institute of Agricultural Botany and the first female Chief Executive in the Institute’s 90-year history. An Agricultural Botany graduate from Bangor University, she was awarded an OBE in the 2018 New Year Honours List for services to agricultural science and biotechnology.
This lecture will be given in English.
Refreshments will be available after the lecture.