Sir, – COP15 of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity continues this summer. It is arguably more crucial to our wellbeing on this planet than COP26 was on climate change.

This convention (to which the UK is a signatory), includes the ‘Cartagena Protocol’ on biosafety. Genome edited organisms have not been excluded from this protocol because they contain novel combinations of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology. This is also true of GMOs which differ only in the source of genetic material used (another species).

In both cases, modern biotechnology has overcome natural physiological reproductive barriers through intrusive in-vitro changes (ie outside the living organism), to genetic material. These techniques are not known in nature and are not used in traditional breeding and selection. Gene editing and genetic modification are essentially the same and do not satisfy the Cartagena Protocol criteria on biosafety.

As the magnitude of the biodiversity crisis continues to dawn on us – Scotland has one of the worst biodiversity records in Europe – and pressure is mounting on our industry to address our part in this, policy influencers such as Rachael Hamilton MSP (writing in The SF's February 12 edition) would do better to focus on the critical issues of biodiversity rather than the dubious carcinogenic effects of burnt toast !

Denise Walton, Peelham, Foulden, Berwickshire.