[Cornell University Professor Tony Shelton] admits to being disappointed by the “misinformation” directed at his research to find a non-insecticidal control for the diamond-backed moth (DBM).
Biotechnology is a hot-button issue, and Shelton knows that addressing public concerns comes with that territory.He has been doing outreach for the past three years, creating an informational website, delivering lectures and hosting a 2015 public forum. Even so, neither he nor Cornell seemed to anticipate that the first open release of genetically engineered self-limiting insects in America would become such a big story.
The [public forum hosted in Geneva, NY] was yet another attempt at engagement, attracting a smaller crowd than expected, and fewer foes… [Shelton] recognizes that some of them are worried about how GE insects could affect their organic certification, but he says the legal precedents don’t support their fear.
Still, the process generated a flurry of controversy that made clear Shelton’s opponents suffered from some grave misperceptions about his research. Part of the problem stems from ideological blinders that prompt many activists to dismiss any GMO work out of hand, regardless of the details. But some of it was due to lack of resources and time — and the inherent difficulty of communicating science to the public.
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