This week in Parliament I spoke in a debate on the Genetic Technology Bill, which would allow for gene editing of plants and animals.
Although there are some potential benefits, such as making crops more resistant to disease and pests or avoiding the birth – and mass slaughter of male chicks, because they’re of no use to the egg industry – I have serious concerns about the implications for animal welfare.
Our current intensive farming systems have already pushed livestock to their breaking point. Chickens are now bred to weigh so much that their legs break, cows produce so much milk that they become rapidly infertile and pigs give birth to so many piglets their health suffers.
The Government is talking up the benefits for animal health – disease reduction, less use of antibiotics – but the Secretary of State would not rule out the use of gene editing to increase yields, pushing animals far beyond what is natural. I will do my best to oppose this as the Bill makes its way through Parliament.
Watch clip here.