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HannoverGEN was an optional pilot program at four high schools in the Hannover area. Students enrolled in the HannoverGEN classes would learn to use molecular biology tools typically reserved for college-level or graduate school courses in order to study plant genetics. Each experimental unit was accompanied by ethical discussions regarding the benefits and risks of generating genetically modified organisms (“GMOs”). The details of the HannoverGEN program are only accessible through the the Wayback Machine Internet archive it was shut down in 2013 at the behest of anti-GMO activist groups, Greenpeace, the Niedersachsen Green Party and the German organic food industry.
Why did they oppose this educational program? A press release entitled “No Acceptance for Agricultural Gene Technology at Schools!” in 2012 by an alliance representing “organic” or “natural food” farmers accompanied by the publication of a critical “study”, gives us some clues. They feared students might become too accepting of biotechnology in agriculture and that the curriculum did not sufficiently highlight all the potential dangers of GMOs.
Unfortunately, this shoddily prepared “study” had a significant impact. Its release in the autumn of 2012 came right before an election. Campaigning against GMOs seemed like a perfect cause for the Green Party and a high school program which taught the use of biotechnology to high school students became a convenient lightning rod.
Once the cancellation of HannoverGEN was announced, the Hannover branch of Greenpeace also took credit for campaigning against this high school program and celebrated its victory.
Ignorance is bliss from an anti-GMO activist perspective because the void of scientific ignorance can be filled with fear.
Read full, original post: Blissful Ignorance: How Environmental Activists Shut Down Molecular Biology Labs in High Schools