Genetically-modified animals could be sold in the UK after Brexit, Michael Gove has said.
The Environment Secretary said that “bio-tech changes” are coming which will “challenge us to think about the future” as he suggested gene editing could be used to create “more valuable livestock”.
But he admitted that the science was still “in its infancy” and that its use would raise “political and moral questions”.
Meanwhile, he also revealed the Government intends to create a new “gold-standard” for food labelling to signify British quality after Brexit.
Mr Gove made the claims as he announced plans to reward farmers for opening up the countryside to the public and enhancing the natural environment after the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
He also set out proposals to replace existing EU subsidies with a system that pays farmers to increase public access to the UK’s countryside.
Outlining his plans for a “green Brexit”, Mr Gove suggested that after Brexit the UK would have the opportunity to take advantage of new technologies which have the potential to dramatically change the way the nation produces food.
In a speech to the Oxford Farming Conference, he said: “These technological breakthroughs raise political and moral questions as we consider how we deal with the transformation of a huge range of existing jobs.
“And alongside these changes in the world of information technology there are bio-tech changes coming which also challenge us to think about the future, and how best to shape it.
“Gene editing technology could help us to remove vulnerabilities to illness, develop higher yielding crops or more valuable livestock, indeed potentially even allow mankind to conquer the diseases to which we are vulnerable.”
Mr Gove said gene editing – a form of genetic engineering which involves changing or removing parts of an organism’s DNA – could allow farmers to “accelerate the process of breeding and evolution” to create a better quality of livestock.