LORDS

Genetically Modified (GM) insects report debated

07 June 2016

On Tuesday 7 June, the House of Lords debates the Science and Technology Committee's report on Genetically Modified insects, which was published at the end of 2015.

Background

The Committee's investigation came to the conclusion that:

  • GM insects have considerable potential to control insect-borne disease and agricultural pests, but they are no silver bullet
  • that the UK, as a world leader in this area of research, could reap potentially significant economic benefits
  • that EU regulation of GMOs is 'failing lamentably', and risks squandering these benefits
  • a lack of international guidance on regulation and governance of GM insect technologies could affect the countries who may benefit from these technologies the most.

Chairman

At the time of the report's publication, Earl of Selborne, Chairman of the Committee said:

"GM insect technologies have the potential not only to save countless lives worldwide, but also to generate significant economic benefits for UK plc, where we are an acknowledged world leader.

But the development of GM insect technologies has come to a screeching halt because the EU regulatory system is woefully inadequate. Until we can get a regulatory framework that will do justice to this area of scientific research, its wings are effectively clipped.

Our report concludes that the UK Government has a moral duty to test the potential of this technology, for the long-term benefit of those countries where diseases like dengue and malaria are indiscriminate killers.

So as a first step towards that goal, we urge the Government to initiate field trials to put not only the science but, crucially, the regulations to the test. This trial could also be a focus to increase public engagement in the area.

We strongly believe that action needs to be taken now to breathe new life into this policy area. While we acknowledge that the science may not be a silver bullet in the fight against fatal disease and threats to food security, it could prove to be an invaluable addition to our armoury.

With a Government-backed field trial, an informed public, and regulation that is fit for purpose, and no longer failing lamentably, we will be in a much better position to realise the enormous potential of GM insects." 

Speakers

Members due to speak include:

Lord Gardiner of Kimble will respond on behalf of the Government.

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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