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Government launches gene editing consultation
The 10-week consultation will focus on preventing gene editing in the same way as gene modification.
Move sparks concern for animal welfare.

The UK government has announced plans to consult on gene-edited crops and livestock.

Environment secretary George Eustice said on Thursday (7 January) that gene editing could help farmers with crops resistant to pests, disease or extreme weather, and produce healthier, more nutritious food. 

Under a 2018 legal ruling from the European Court of Justice, gene editing is regulated in the same way as genetic modification. 

Mr Eustice said that the 10-week consultation will focus on preventing them from been regulated in the same way, as long as they have been produced naturally or by a wide range of countries. 

Speaking at the digital Oxford Farming Conference, Mr Eustice said: “Gene editing has the ability to harness the genetic resources that mother nature has provided, in order to tackle the challenges of our age. This includes breeding crops that perform better, reducing costs to farmers and impacts on the environment, and helping us all adapt to the challenges of climate change.

“Its potential was blocked by a European Court of Justice ruling in 2018, which is flawed and stifling to scientific progress. Now that we have left the EU, we are free to make coherent policy decisions based on science and evidence. That begins with this consultation.”

The National Farmers Union (NFU) has welcomed the consultation, saying “it could be a very important tool to help us meet the challenges for the future.” 

But the move has sparked concern from the RSPCA, which said it would be a “huge mistake” for government to “water down” the legislation. 

RSPCA chief executive Chris Sherwood said: “The RSPCA is very concerned about government plans to weaken legislation on livestock gene editing in England. This could lead to food from genetically altered animals being offered for sale on supermarket shelves or in restaurants, an unwanted and unacceptable development even if the food were labelled. 

“Over and above the forthcoming government consultation, we would like to see a national debate taking place rather than just rush to deregulate gene editing. There are many questions to be considered and the public has the right to be informed and engaged in this debate and for us all to understand what this means for animal welfare.”

The consultation is now open and will run until Wednesday 17 March.

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WellVet launches spring series of wellbeing talks

News Story 1
 A new spring series of wellbeing talks designed to tackle some of the issues faced in veterinary practices is launching on Saturday (27 February). Hosted by WellVet and Boehringer Ingelheim, the talks will focus on simple, practical tips to improve personal and team wellbeing.

Six 30-minute presentations will be hosted by leading coaching professionals, including Libby Kemkaran, Adrian Nelson-Pratt and occupational psychologist professor Elinor O'Connor. The events will be streamed live on the WellVet Facebook page and can be watched back at any time. For more information, visit wellvet.com 

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News Shorts
2021 NOAH Compendium now available

The 2021 edition of the NOAH Compendium of Data Sheets for Animal Medicines has been published.

Published annually by NOAH, this book is sent to every veterinary practice in the UK for free. The 2021 edition includes an even larger range of products than previous years.

Chief executive Dawn Howard stated that NOAH will shortly be launching a survey for practices on the Compendiums effectiveness.

She added: "Our survey will give users of the Compendium the opportunity to say how they think we can improve it to assist them in prescribing veterinary medicines and advising animal keepers on their use. We look forward to getting your views."