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Defra's Chief Scientific Adviser smiling for the camera
Podcast / The Big Issues
Podcast / The Big Issues

Interview: Defra’s Chief Scientific Adviser on gene-edited crops

In March this year, the UK Government passed a new law allowing gene-edited food to be developed commercially in England.

It is a controversial subject and one which has its supporters and its detractors.

Those in favour say it will improve food security, making it easier to develop hardier crops that will help us meet one of the challenges of climate change.

Critics fear as-yet, unknown, unintended consequences for the food system and the environment.

So, what does the new law actually allow for? What safeguards are in place? And what does all of this mean for the food industry?

In this episode of the Food Matters Live podcast, Stefan Gates interviews a key figure in the introduction of the Precision Breeding Act.

Professor Gideon Henderson, Chief Scientific Adviser, Defra

Professor Gideon Henderson was appointed Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on October 1st 2019. He is also Director General for Science and Analysis.

He is responsible for overseeing the quality of evidence that the department relies on for policy decisions. He also provides ministers with scientific advice and sets the priorities for scientific research and evidence-gathering.

He has been Professor of Earth Sciences at the Department of Earth Sciences in the University of Oxford since 2006.

He has also jointly held positions as Senior Research Fellow at University College, Oxford since 2012 and as Adjunct Associate Research Scientist at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University since 1999.

His awards include the 30th Annual Plymouth Marine Science Medal 2016, European Union of Geosciences outstanding young scientist award in 2001, and the Leverhulme Prize Fellowship in 2001. In 2013 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS).

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