The production of gene-edited crops is to be sped up to help guarantee British food supplies in the wake of the conflict in Ukraine.
Russian blockades are preventing the export of key goods such as wheat from the country, leading to rising food prices and shortages globally.
Amid concern over the UK’s food self-sufficiency, the Government will this week introduce a Bill which will allow farms to grow more crops by planting variants that have been edited to be more resistant to disease or need less water or fertiliser.
Although plans for the Bill have been in place since Brexit, a government source said it had taken on added importance in the wake of Ukraine.
Asked about the impact of the conflict on the plans, the source said: “It’s always been quite prominent as a big Brexit benefit. But also yes – it could be good news for food security in terms of developing crops that are more resistant to disease.”
George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, told The Telegraph: “Precision technologies allow us to speed up the breeding of crops that have a natural resistance to diseases and climate change, and better use of soil nutrients so we can have higher yields with fewer pesticides and fertilisers. Water scarcity is a coming challenge with climate change, and this technology could therefore be imperative to global food security.”