NFU23: Sugar Beet – what can gene editing do for us?

National Farmers Union
Wednesday, February 22, 2023
With the Genetic Technologies (Precision Breeding) Bill having almost completed its parliamentary progress, the NFU23 sugar breakout session looked to the opportunities of GE (gene editing) for the homegrown beet crop. NFU Sugar Board Chair Michael Sly said the technologies should be viewed with optimism, after a year in which a catalogue of extreme weather was capped by the emergence of beet moth. East Anglia Regional Director Zoe Leach reiterated the timeliness of the Bill, while Dr Penny Hundleby, of the John Innes Centre, underlined the similarities between GE and traditional breeding techniques – and the differences. Both produce traits that could have occurred naturally, she stressed – unlike ‘GM’ which results in DNA being moved from other species – but GE can do in a matter of months what might otherwise take many years.
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