The Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Act is now law in the UK. It removes what the government called “regulatory burdens” from certain types of genetically engineered (so-called “precision bred”) organisms commonly used in agriculture. The removal of basic regulatory controls such as environmental, health and safety assessments, labelling, traceability and ongoing monitoring would be controversial enough on its own.

But what many don’t know – because it has not been widely reported or discussed – is that the scope of the bill extends far beyond the usual handful of commodity crops found on the farm into a wide range of animals, including farmed animals (both land-based and in aquaculture) and pets, as well as to animals and plants found in wider nature.

This is a sea change in the UK’s approach to the potential uses of genetic engineering. The rushed timetable of the Act’s passage and its skeletal nature left little space for discussion about either scope or consequences. This webinar is an opportunity to explore these and other aspects of this new UK legislation from the perspectives  of ethics, welfare and environmental impact. Experts from the RSPCA, Compassion in World Farming and A Bigger Conversation will give their views on different aspects of the new legislation and answer audience questions in order to promote a greater understanding of what we might expect in the future.


Peter Stevenson. OBE – Chief Policy Advisor, Compassion in World Farming
Having worked in the animal welfare movement for almost three decades, Peter played a leading role in winning the EU bans on veal crates, battery cages and sow stalls as well as a new status for animals in EU law as sentient beings. Peter studied economics and law at Trinity College Cambridge and is a qualified lawyer. In October 2020, Peter was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, in recognition of his tremendous contributions in the field of animal welfare.

David Bowles – Head of Public Affairs and Campaigns, RSPCA
David manages the RSPCA’s campaigns and political work in Europe, Westminster and England. He has worked with the RSPCA for 25 years and is a Board member of the Association of Cat and Dog Homes and of the Government’s policy advisors on cat and dog issues in the Canine and Feline Scientific Group. Prior to joining the RSPCA, he worked for 15 years in zoos and with undercover organisations looking at the illegal trade in birds, ivory and endangered species.

Pat Thomas – Director, Beyond GM/A Bigger Conversation
A former editor of the Ecologist magazine, Pat has run campaigns for Paul McCartney’s Meat-Free Monday, Compassion in World Farming and Neal’s Yard Remedies.  In 2014 she co-founded Beyond GM, which represents public views on GMOs, and in 2018 the A Bigger Conversation initiative, which brings a wider range of stakeholders and expertise into the discussion around agricultural genetic engineering. A former trustee of the Soil Association and the Organic Research Centre, she was inducted into Who’s Who in 2014.


Dan Crossley, Executive Director, Food Ethics Council
Dan has worked on food sustainability issues for over 15 years, leading work on a range of issues, from our relationship with meat to tackling household food insecurity to power dynamics in the food system. He holds, or has held, a number of senior advisory roles. Dan is a member of Defra’s Consumer Stakeholder Consultative Group, the Food Standards Agency Consumer Stakeholder Forum and N8 AgriFood Food Systems Policy Hub Advisory Group.