Americans are easily riled about genetically modifying crops, animals and foods, even though research indicates they know little about how GMOs are produced. So, what about consumer understanding of a new and much different approach to precision breeding called gene editing?
There’s a big difference between what are usually referred to as GMOs and products produced through gene editing, but that has not stopped some activists from tying the two types of technologies together on social media and creating unnecessary fears.
Nina Fedoroff [a molecular biologist at Penn State University] isn’t all that optimistic. … She points to the 2016 National Academies of Science findings of no health or safety risks linked to biotech crops.
“[W]e know that the methods are not dangerous. People have been looking for problems associated with simply using molecular techniques for 30 or 40 years now and haven’t found them,” she declares.
She says she doesn’t know if the resulting tide of opinion against biotechnology leaves room for gene editing to advance in years ahead.
[Michael] Specter, the New Yorker writer, favors gene editing himself and generally agrees with Fedoroff that biotech in agriculture has suffered from campaigns of untruth.
“People are paid for, and attracted to, extremely engaging and horrifying stories. It’s cheap and it’s easy,” Specter says. His solution: “You have to fight misinformation and lies with the truth. I don’t know any shorthand for that.”
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