Spillover effect: Could GMO disinformation shake public trust in other scientific innovations?

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In 2016, the World Economic Forum listed online digital misinformation as one of the leading threats to modern societies. Campaigns designed to provide incorrect and flawed information regarding safe products such as vaccines, genetically modified (GM) crops and farm chemicals have resulted in needless deaths ….

The concerns about misinformation are reaching a crucial point as these deception campaigns may affect the ability to increase the nutritional content of crops, fruits and vegetables, thereby contributing to improving food security the world over, not to mention the safe vaccination of children against dangerous diseases.

What if this misinformation spills into other areas of concern globally, which affects us all, like our health? Gene editing technologies are currently playing a substantial role in the development of new drugs and vaccines. The Economist identified in April that the majority of vaccines under development within the European Union are based on gene editing technologies. While the activist groups identified above have remained silent about the use of gene editing technologies to develop Covid-19 vaccines, they continue to demonize gene editing applications in agriculture.

Related article:  Edible vaccine may protect honey bees from deadly microbial infections

Deliberate campaigns of misinformation, or pseudo-science, are dangerous at the best of times, but particularly so during times of crisis, such as the case with the Covid-19 pandemic. The solution to refuting misinformation is to build increased trust relationships between science communicators and those seeking information. Scientists and academics need to communicate value statements, rather than statistics or probabilities.

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