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We don’t know what direction the gene-editing debates will take. But one crucial battle is already being quietly waged over a question that grows directly out of the GMO battles: do we call gene-edited organisms GMO’s? This is key not just for the obvious reason that we need some agreement on terms in order to talk with each other; more importantly, it will shape how the public reacts to the new technology.
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I said it all depends on how you define your terms, but how you define your terms depends on what you are trying to accomplish. And it looks like gene editors’ goal is, to quote New Yorker’s Michael Specter, to “Avoid the Monsanto Problem”.
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Just exactly what is the “Monsanto problem”? To Specter, it is GMO’s having “failed to engage people,” so people became suspicious and even hostile even “after the technology has been proven both safe and useful.”
. . . .[G]ene editors will benefit from putting as much distance as they can between their new technology and GMO’s. Which is precisely why a campaign is on over a name.
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Got it? Gene editing is not genetic modification because it doesn’t introduce foreign DNA. . . . And that’s what makes all the difference. In fact, unlike GMO’s with the transgenes, this is a natural way to introduce traits. Gene edited crops are not GMO’s. Any questions?
I have one. Haven’t biotechnologists been insisting for years that all our food plants are GMO’s? In fact, that any organism affected by humans is genetically engineered? That it makes no difference if foreign DNA is involved or not?
Read full, original post: CRISPR and the Monsanto Problem (GMO, be some other name!)