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Julian Sturdy - Strong Voice for York Outer

Julian Sturdy

Member of Parliament for York Outer

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BBC Radio York – York’s Bid for Great British Railways HQ

BBC Radio York – York’s Bid for Great British Railways HQ

Julian enjoyed being on BBC Radio York earlier this week to talk about his Westminster Hall debate on York’s bid to host the Great British Railways HQ. You can listen to the interview from 3:39:52 here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p0b1j4vh Or listen on Facebook:

Julian holds debate in Parliament on York’s bid to host Great British Railways

Julian has today held a debate in Parliament on the subject of York’s bid...

Government accepts cancer amendment to Health Bill backed by Julian

Julian has welcomed the government’s acceptance yesterday of the proposed amendment to the government’s...

Statement on social care costs cap vote

Last night I withheld my support from the government in the vote on its...

Julian questions COP 26 President on using gene editing and science to stop climate change

October 20, 2021

Julian today used Questions to the President of COP 26 in the House of Commons to ask the government to use the summit to promote the vital role cutting-edge science like gene editing can play in ensuring sustainable production and combating global warming.

Britain is hosting the COP 26 climate change meeting of world leaders in Glasgow from 31st October to 12th November. The aim is to reach agreement on further big steps the international community can take to reduce polluting emissions, and limit climate change.

Gene editing of crops is when the genes of a plant are removed or replaced, to allow for the rapid development of better crop varieties that could have evolved naturally. This allows for the creation of healthier, tougher and more nutritious crops that are more resistant to pests or may require less water, facilitating sustainable farming that delivers more food while using fewer resources, and reducing the need for potentially polluting fertilisers and pest control products.

It is therefore an important tool in reducing the impact of human activities on the planet, as a major problem in reducing world carbon emissions is the need to sustainably produce 70% more food by 2050, to feed nearly 2 billion additional people as a result of population growth.

Gene editing is very different to Genetic Modification (GM), which involves implanting DNA from other species, producing an organism which could not have developed naturally. Despite this, before Brexit the UK was obliged to apply EU rules which did not follow the science, and mistakenly classified and regulated gene-edited products as GM, effectively choking off innovation in this vital area of science. The issue is also confused by plentiful scaremongering about genetic modification, which obscures the fact this is a green, sustainable area of science that gives humanity the tools to reduce its impact on the world.

Now outside the EU, the government has announced plans to regulate gene-edited and GM products separately, allowing safe trials of gene-edited crops to proceed far more rapidly, and for gene-edited crops to be regulated like any new plant variety, unlocking huge opportunities for British science in a major industry of the future.

In the Commons, Julian asked COP President Alok Sharma: “Given the government’s recent wise decision to recognise that environment-saving gene editing technology should be regulated differently to GM, will Ministers use COP26 to champion this and other cutting-edge science and technologies, that provide some of the best solutions to the problems of sustainability and climate change?”

Alok Sharma replied that this was an important point, and that “Science and innovation are absolutely crucial to tackling climate change, and also delivering green growth. Innovation will be discussed at the world leaders’ summit at COP 26, and on the 9th November we will provide a particular focus on discussing and indeed showcasing science and innovation’s role in tackling climate change.

On leaving the Commons chamber, Julian said: “ The government’s sensible decision to use our Brexit freedom to break away from the EU’s anti-science gene editing rules is a massive opportunity for science and innovation in this country, and can allow us to lead the way in finding green solutions to the environmental challenge of ensuring global food security.

We have to embrace this and other new technology if we are serious about addressing climate change, and I am very glad to hear a special day of the summit will be set aside to consider this.”