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‘Will people eat it?’: The public opinion battle over CRISPR gene-edited food is just beginning

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Image source: VISCEA
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Zachary Lippman, a plant biologist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, stood among 2 acres of his experimental crops, including some altered with a gene-editing technology called Crispr-Cas9, one of the most ambitious efforts yet to improve on what nature created.

He plucked a tomato, held it up and asked: “Will people eat it?”

That question is rippling through the food industry, where a battle for public opinion is under way even before the new gene-edited foods hit the market.

Proponents including scientists and agriculture-industry executives say gene editing in plants could transform agriculture and help feed a growing global population. Organic farmers and natural-food companies say it may pose risks to human health and permanently alter the environment by spreading beyond farms.

The agricultural industry is desperate to avoid a repeat of the acrimonious and costly battles it fought over the genetically modified crops currently on the market, even though authorities such as the Food and Drug Administration and World Health Organization have deemed them safe. Seed companies and farm groups have spent millions of dollars on campaigns promoting the benefits of biotech crops, while fighting labeling requirements and proposals to block their cultivation.

Read full, original post: Is This Tomato Engineered? Inside the Coming Battle Over Gene-Edited Food (behind paywall)

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