Viewpoint: If organic farmers want to promote sustainable farming they should reconsider hostility toward CRISPR-gene editing

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A University of California, Berkeley professor stands at the front of the room, delivering her invited talk about the potential of [gene editing]. Her audience, full of organic farming advocates, listens uneasily …. a man [gets] up from his seat and [moves] toward the front of the room …. she watches him bend over, reach for the power cord, and unplug the projector …. So much for listening to the ideas of others.

Opponents argue that CRISPR is a sneaky way to trick the public into eating genetically engineered foods. It is tempting to toss CRISPR and genetic engineering into the same bucket. But even “genetic engineering” and “CRISPR” are too broad to convey what is happening on the genetic level ….

In the six years since the genome editing capabilities of CRISPR were unlocked, academics, startups and established corporations have announced new agricultural products …. Some of these focus on traits for consumer health, such as low-gluten or gluten-free wheat for people with celiac disease. Others, such as non-browning mushrooms, can decrease food waste.

Related article:  CRISPR immunizes rice, staple crop consumed by billions, against devastating bacterial infection

In 2016 and 2017, the U.S. National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) voted to exclude all genome-edited crops from organic certification …. But in my view, they should reconsider …. Collaborative problem-solving by organic …. growers, specialists in sustainable agriculture, biotechnologists and policymakers will yield greater progress than individual groups acting alone and dismissing each other ….

Read full, original article: Organic farming with gene editing: An oxymoron or a tool for sustainable agriculture?

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