New legislation to allow research into gene editing technology for crop and animal breeding was introduced at Westminster on Wednesday.

The UK government said the bill would “remove unnecessary barriers” to research in gene editing and would “enable the development and marketing of precision bred plants and animals”.

The proposals are possible due to Brexit as gene editing is regulated in the same way as genetic modification in the EU, so it is therefore prohibited. The breeding technology differs from genetic modification as the DNA from one species is not mixed with a different species.

The UK government said the EU’s rules were based on “legal interpretation rather than science” and highlighted that the technology could result in a range of environmental benefits. For example, crops could be bred which require fewer inputs.

With NI still following EU single market rules under the NI protocol, it is unlikely that gene editing technologies will be permitted here until there is a rule change at the EU level.