In 2016, 107 Nobel Laureates signed an open letter calling on Greenpeace to desist from campaigning against agricultural biotechnology and for governments to reject and resist such campaigning, arguing that “[o]pposition based on emotion and dogma contradicted by data must be stopped”. The letter marked the latest chapter in a long-running, heated and apparently intractable debate around agricultural biotechnology. Yet, while the arguments by Greenpeace and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) against agricultural biotechnology are frequently dismissed as based on emotion and dogma, their opposition is often grounded on more general scepticisms concerning the framing of the problem and its solutions, and the motivations of actors to employ biotechnology in agriculture.
Our research suggests that opposition to agricultural biotechnology cannot be dismissed as being solely emotional or dogmatic as the Noble Laureate Letter contends. Instead, NGO participants’ opposition to genome editing is rooted in three areas of scepticism: how the problem is defined as a lack of food rather than a lack of access to food, and the urgency of this crisis which closes down alternative solutions; the solutions, particularly whether further entrenching intensive agriculture through science and technology can address political and socio-economic inequalities; and the motivations for removing genome editing from GM regulations.
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