PR battle between biotech industry, anti-GMO activists could determine fate of CRISPR gene-edited crops

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In the grocery store of the future, consumers might shop for tomatoes with the spiciness of a chili pepper….and bread made with low-gluten wheat flour. It’s not the stuff of science fiction, rather the next generation of biotechnology: gene editing.

But for many consumers, the perception of GM foods as “Frankenfoods” still lingers. After years of consumer confusion and controversy over GMOs, will shoppers accept gene-edited foods, or view it as just another scary science?

How Canadians react to gene-edited foods could come down to which side of the debate has the most effective public relations campaign. Stuart Smyth, an assistant professor at the University of Saskatchewan’s department of agricultural and resources economics, says more than 90% of the Canadian public has no awareness about what technologies are being used to develop plant varieties…. “So, [consumer reaction] depends on the communications that come from the agricultural industry, talking about how these varieties are developed….” he says.

Related article:  Viewpoint: Why the West should worry about losing the gene-editing race

“The question is whether the environmental organizations are going to try to advocate that [gene editing] is just an extension of GMO technology and try to have it banned,” says Smyth….

Read full, original article: Gene-edited foods: Coming soon, but will consumers bite?

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