CRISPR crops could help solve hunger, climate change challenges if they avoid PR mistakes of GMOs

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As Newsweek pointed out in a feature story published earlier this year, [CRISPR-Cas9] could be an invaluable tool in fighting world hunger, potentially making crops less susceptible to climate change and less reliant on chemicals like pesticides. CRISPR could also be used to grow certain crops in places where local conditions are currently inhospitable. And because CRISPR could allow scientists to develop strains of fruits and vegetables with amplified health benefits, malnourished populations around the world may someday have access to more vitamin-rich foods. . .

“I think the benefits of this technology are lost in translation to the grocery store,” said Wayne Parrott, a professor of crop and soil sciences at the University of Georgia. “The industry can really mess up CRISPR in public opinion if they repeat the mistakes of the past.”

. . .According to the MIT Technology Review, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has told several companies that CRISPR-edited foods will not be regulated because they don’t contain genes from other species.

Despite the lingering questions of regulation and consumer response, David Zilberman, an agricultural and environmental economist at the University of California, Berkeley, said he is optimistic that CRISPR could provide a way out of the current anti-GMO quagmire.

“If you want to solve climate change, how would you solve it? By going back to organic, going back to the Middle Ages? Or by trying to develop technologies that could help crops withstand climate change and help plants fight disease and insects?” Zilberman asked. “You cannot throw away the most important discovery in biology because you have a preconceived idea.”

Read full, original post: The Genetic Revolution Could Curb World Hunger And Pesticide Use

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