Westminster Food and Nutrition Forum has announced a new conference that will examine next steps for gene-edited food production in England.

The conference, which will be held on Monday 17th June, will look at next steps for gene-edited food production in England following the passing of the Genetic Technology Act in 2023. The act enabled the development of gene-edited plant production.

Delegates will look at how best to address concerns around food safety and potential development of new toxins, with discussion on pre-market authorisation processes for products and managing risk, as well as implications for enforcement.

Those attending will consider consumer priorities for gene-edited products, and their response including awareness, understanding, and appetite, and implications for the industry, particularly as new legislation does not require food labels to identify gene-edited products.

The role of gene-editing in improving food security will also be discussed as the food system adapts to climate change, including options for avoiding harm to ecosystems.

Speaking at the event will be: Professor Gideon Henderson, Chief Scientific Advisor for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra); Jonny Hazell, senior policy advisor at The Royal Society; and Katrina Anderson, principal associate director at Mills & Reeve.

Key topics

Areas for discussion will include:

  • Policy: Impact of approaches being developed through the Genetic Technology Act – what support and engagement with key stakeholders will be needed if ambitions are to be achieved
  • Regulation: Developing an evidence-based regulatory framework – priorities for consumer safety and addressing new toxin concerns – product traceability – managing risk – authorisation processes
  • Sector priorities: Expanding gene-edited food production – investment and licencing – public perceptions – food safety – gene-edited animal and crop IP rights issues
  • Consumers: Awareness and understanding – trends in attitudes – food labelling needs, trust and transparency
  • Food security: Investment priorities – maximising potential for crop resilience, improving availability of food in the supply chain and adapting to climate change – minimising harm to ecosystems
  • R&I: Funding and investment priorities – supporting investor confidence – developing the science and research base and a research notification system – increasing data accuracy