London, UK – Yesterday, in his first speech as UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson outlined his policy agenda. The package is wide-ranging and covers many areas, but Johnson’s ambition to push for free trade and ‘liberate the UK’s bioscience sector from anti-genetic modification rules’ have a strong pro-consumer choice flavour.
Commenting on the speech, Maria Chaplia, European Affairs Associate at the Consumer Choice Center, said “it was good to see Johnson speaking up for consumer choice, especially with regard to science. Consumers and their needs do matter, and the fact that Johnson shares this sentiment should make us feel optimistic.
“GM foods have been consistently demonised by anti-science activists, making it extremely hard for scientists advocating for the benefits of gene-editing to be heard. One-sidedness is always dangerous as it undermines the value of debate and hence hinders innovation. Equally, giving an unfair advantage to conventional foods rids consumers of the chance to decide for themselves and shop as they wish.
“The UK’s existing ban on GM crops would threaten a trade deal with the US, yet another reason to support Johnson’s ideas as he seeks to drive out the anti-gene modification rules. As he rightly noted, ‘free trade has done more than anything else to lift billions out of poverty’. It would then be insensible to walk away from the UK-US free trade agreement that has the propensity to become one of the greatest trade deals in history. Free trade and the achievements of modern agriculture benefit consumers,” said Chaplia.
“Time will tell whether Johnson manages to stick to this pro-consumer choice agenda, but the intention should be championed. As a consumer group representing consumers in the UK and globally, we look forward to furthering developments and support policy proposals that liberate the UK food and biotech sector from anti-innovation sentiment,” concluded Chaplia.