MSPs have been urged not to back a UK Government bill which poses a “danger to devolution”.

The warning from the Scottish Greens comes with the Scottish Parliament set to vote on whether to consent to the Tory government’s plans to legalise certain genetically modified (GM) foods for the UK market.

The Conservatives have had plans to legalise “genetically edited” (GE) foods in the UK since Brexit, and their Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill is nearing its final stages at Westminster.

Under EU law both GM and GE foods were banned, but the Tories plan to legalise GE – or “precision bred” – foods. Their bill defines GE foods as having alterations made which could have resulted from “traditional processes” or “natural transformation” – although there are numerous caveats.

READ MORE: Warning of 'trucks rolling over Border' as England plans to legalise GM food

There are no plans to ask producers to label GE foods, and rules in the post-Brexit Internal Market Act mean that anything created and sold in England can also be sold in Scotland.

The Greens warned the result of the Tories' bill would be “untested, controversial, and unlabelled gene-edited plant and animal products” on Scotland’s shop shelves.

SNP Environment Minister Mairi McAllan has lodged a motion asking MSPs to refuse consent for the Tory bill. The motion, if passed, will further call for the bill to be altered “in order to properly respect devolved responsibilities”.

Sections 42 to 48 of the Tory bill explicitly apply to Scotland, despite food standards and agriculture being devolved. Section 42 specifically would allow the UK Government to make regulations which “modify legislation” in Scotland.

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Scottish Green MSP Ariane Burgess (above) said: “Once again, the UK Government is threatening to override our parliament's wishes by allowing UK ministers to rewrite devolved Scottish regulations which relate to their bill. This is the same government that is also allowing gene-edited products from the rest of the UK to be sold in Scotland via the Internal Market Act.

“It is part of a wider Westminster power grab, which is undermining our democracy and environmental standards.

“Devolution cannot work when we are constantly being overruled by a reactionary Tory government that is wedded to a deregulated post-Brexit Britain where rules can be ditched at the whim of ministers.”

Labelling the bill a “danger to devolution”, Burgess went on: “Many of us hoped that we had stopped this kind of meddling with nature long ago, but this bill would undo a lot of that work and would introduce genetic modification through the backdoor. It could be a big leap backwards for animal welfare and consumer standards.

“The Scottish Parliament should have the powers to make the decisions that it sees fit to protect the environment and the public, and this bill undermines that. It is another example of the continued mission creep of the Westminster government over devolution.”

McAllan’s motion, which is likely to pass with the support of the Greens and SNP, says that the Scottish Parliament “agrees not to give consent to the Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill, and calls on the UK Government to amend the bill to restrict the geographical application of clause 42, or to otherwise make it a requirement for it to seek the consent of the Scottish Ministers when making provision within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament, in order to properly respect devolved responsibilities”.

READ MORE: Gene editing should be embraced by Scotland, says Alister Jack

The UK Government spokesperson said: “Precision breeding technologies, such as gene editing, have great potential and can help us reduce pesticide use, lower costs to farmers, increase food production and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

“This bill will remove unnecessary red tape inherited from the EU in order to create a simpler and more proportionate regulatory regime so that we can support our farmers to grow more resistant, more nutritious, and more productive crops and position the UK as a world leader in research and innovation.

“We will continue to work closely with the Devolved Administrations to develop this policy in a coordinated way. We are keen that all parts of the UK have the ability to unlock the potential of these technologies and are having ongoing discussions to manage any divergence.”