The UK government is looking to genetically engineer crops to produce biofuels that could help combat the spread of cancer, with the first plants in operation in the country’s North.
A government committee will soon finalise its recommendations on how the plants should be grown and how they will be marketed.
“We have been in discussions with the company and have asked them to come up with a vision of what they want to do and what the industry is looking for, and what we think the market will be,” Agriculture Secretary Andrew Tyrie said.
“It is important to get this right.
It will provide certainty and we want to make sure we get the right things in place.”
Mr Tyrie, who is also the secretary of state for science and innovation, said it would be “very difficult” for the plant to become commercially viable without the Government having to take the risk.
The plant will be genetically modified to produce cellulose, which is used to make biofuel products, and produce the fuel needed to produce the products, such as ethanol and biodiesel.
It is the first time a plant has been created using technology to produce a fuel.
Genetically modifying a plant to produce fuel is not new.
In 2015, the European Union announced it would allow companies to create genetically modified products for a period of 10 years, and to sell those products in the EU.
Currently, the UK is a member of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) which regulates the use of biofueling.
But, despite this, the EFSA is only able to regulate the use and distribution of biofuel and biofuel products within the EU, not within the UK.
This is because the UK has a strict biosecurity system, which requires biotechnology products to be registered with the UK Food Standards Agency, and requires them to have an approved use and sale certificate.
However, since the launch of the plant in November last year, the number of registered biofuel plants in the UK jumped from five to over 20, with more than 400 currently registered.
There are currently 2,000 approved biofuel plant operators in the US, the US has the largest biofuel production capacity in the world.
In the UK, there are only around 150 biofuel producers, but the UK Biofuel Association has said it believes there could be more than 100,000 registered.
“It will create a new market opportunity and we will need to be ready to meet that,” said Mr Tyrie.
Mr Grieve added: “It will be hugely beneficial to our economy.
We will create tens of thousands of jobs in the biofuel sector.”
The company has been awarded £1.2bn ($1.5bn) of government grants, and will now start growing the plants at a site in Oxfordshire.
UK companies can apply to grow a plant for up to five years, but they will only have until 2021 to do so.
More to come.