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Viewpoint: Europe may miss CRISPR gene-editing revolution in agriculture, but that won’t stop its progress

| | July 30, 2018

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

Had gene-editing technologies such as CRISPR-Cas9 been exempt from the same stringent guidelines in place for conventional genetic technology, it would have represented a big opportunity for scientists.

But that’s unlikely to happen now in the wake of the ruling by the European Court of Justice. Instead, it’s an affirmation of the decisions made years ago by large industrial research companies such as BASF to move their crop research divisions overseas. Those companies that have yet to do so will sooner or later follow suit.

Perhaps it’s part of human nature to mistrust our own capabilities. A lot of people have an uneasy feeling when they hear the words “genetic engineering.” Can the sorcerer’s apprentice retain control over the powers that he unleashes? The honest answer is probably, yes — just as we have in the past. But for the opponents of genetic engineering, that answer is unconvincing. Their rejection lies deep, just as we see an anti-modernist, anti-industrial attitude taking hold in society.

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That doesn’t mean that CRISPR-Cas9 will cease to develop. On other continents, people are less ideological in this debate — so Europe will continue to lag behind.

Read full, original article: Opinion: EU risks being left behind after GMO ruling

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