UK Genetic Technology Bill threatens devolution and environmental standards

The UK government’s drive to push ahead with its highly controversial Genetic Technology Bill threatens to undermine devolution and environmental standards by introducing “Genetic Modification through the backdoor”, the Scottish Greens are warning.

The Scottish Parliament will vote on a Legislative Consent Memorandum this evening which the Scottish Government is urging MSPs to reject given that the Bill would allow UK Ministers to amend devolved regulations.

Scottish Green MSP Ariane Burgess said:

“This reckless Bill is a danger to devolution. It would promote untested, controversial and unlabelled gene edited plant and animal products and undermine environmental standards. 

“Many of us hoped that we had stopped this kind of meddling with nature long ago, but this Bill would undo a lot of that work and would introduce genetic modification through the backdoor. It could be a big leap backwards for animal welfare and consumer standards.

“The Scottish Parliament should have the powers to make the decisions that it sees fit to protect the environment and the public, and this Bill undermines that. It is another example of the continued mission creep of the Westminster government over devolution. 

“The Scottish Government is rightly opposed to gene editing. 

“But, once again, the UK government is threatening to override our Parliament's wishes by allowing UK Ministers to rewrite devolved Scottish regulations which relate to their Bill. This is the same government that is also allowing gene edited products from the rest of the UK to be sold in Scotland via the Internal Market Act.

“It is part of a wider Westminster power grab, which is undermining our democracy and environmental standards. Devolution cannot work when we are constantly being overruled by a reactionary Tory government that is wedded to a deregulated post-Brexit Britain where rules can be ditched at the whim of ministers.

“It is time for Downing Street to finally listen to the people of Scotland and drop this damaging Bill.”