Conservative MEPs are in the vanguard of attempts this week to roll back over-zealous EU restrictions on gene editing.

Led by agriculture spokesman Anthea McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, they are voting against proposals to block the import of three gene-edited products - two for maize and one for soya bean.

She said: "When it comes to Greta Thunberg's message on global warming everyone says the same - listen to the science. On vaccinations – listen to the science. 

"But on gene editing? I am afraid the science is being ignored.

"The EU and particularly this Parliament has to decide whether we accept science or not in our decision making. I really hope we do"

She said it was important to keep the technology here in Europe. Genetic modification was safe and benign and there were no unknown unknowns.

She said: "The EU's GMO legislation puts a block on innovation. It is not fit for purpose and urgently needs review to ensure risk-based, proportionate and science-based policy

"I hope that the new commission will commit to working on this over the coming five years and I know industry stands ready to support this process.

"We must provide the most fertile ground for EU innovation we need to keep doing what we do best which is collaborating and working across nationalities and disciplines."

In a separate vote, Conservative MEPs are also also opposing moves effectively to ban two plant protection products, flumioxazine and chlorotoluron.

They are voting against objections raised by Green and Communist MEPs to Commission proposals for extending approval periods for both products.