CRISPR and other gene-editing and New Breeding Techniques are fast being adopted around the world, although many ‘environmental activist’ groups are doing their best to frighten the public and intimidate legislators into erecting insurmountable regulatory barriers. They’ve been largely successful in Europe, which is blocking gene-edited crops under legislation passed in the pre-CRISPR era in 2001, Entine said, but the rest of the world is more open to the innovations.
Entine was interviewed in mid-October at the annual Euroseeds Congress 2019, held in Stockholm.
The GLP founder raised a range of challenges facing agriculture in the face of what can only be called a determined anti-technology faction. Africa appears to be emerging as a central battleground. Europe has strong historical trade and cultural ties to the continent. It has long used those connections to push its anti-GMO policies. Africa is now rebelling, Entine noted, and is pursuing biotechnology innovation led by African scientists, particularly focusing on animal biotech, in an attempt to shed Europe’s yoke.
It’s an uphill battle for Europe and Africa, Entine noted. Activist groups, mostly from European nations, are going door-to-door, telling Africans deliberate falsehoods about biotechnology, claiming that genetically engineered crops cause cancer and sterility.
Entine went on to offer a communications strategy to ‘give the science a chance,’ so crop biotechnology has an opportunity to succeed on its merits, without being tangled in Europe’s ideological web.
Jon Entine is the founder and executive director of the Genetic Literacy Project. Twitter: @jonentine