Biotech industry will engage public to ease fear of CRISPR gene editing


A new gene-editing technology known as CRISPR could soon be used to alter the crops producing the food we eat — making tomatoes sweeter, for example, or vegetables more resistant to disease.

Larry Gilbertson, a longtime scientist with Monsanto, believes some of the controversy surrounding GMOs stemmed from the giant agriculture company’s lack of direct engagement with the public. Monsanto — now known as Bayer Crop Science after Bayer bought Monsanto for $63 billion this year — plans to do better with products made with CRISPR technology ….

Gilbertson was in Chicago …. at the Foodscape conference on emerging food trends. The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: Consumers who don’t like GMOs might not like gene editing either. How is Bayer planning to address their concerns?

A: First, we want to be part of the conversation …. We’re very proud of our GMO technology and we continue to support that. But we are engaging more with the public …. As a scientist, I wish I could just explain how it works and everyone would just be OK with it. But we know it’s more than just understanding. Food is emotional and I understand that …. The coolest science in the world doesn’t matter if the world isn’t ready for it.”

Related article:  CRISPR crops spur farming innovation despite climate change, water shortages and exploding food demand
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