Fear of climate change moving UK closer to breaking with EU and embracing gene-edited crops

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Credit: Financial Times
Credit: Financial Times

GMOs account for the vast majority of U.S. soy, corn, canola, cotton, and sugar beet crops—but those same crops are almost nonexistent in Europe, except when used to feed livestock. 

Many have concerns about the future, as the U.K. government evaluates the findings from [a recent gene-editing] consultation. On the one hand, proponents say using the cutting-edge modern bioengineering technologies is crucial for feeding billions of people this century, as the planet warms. But stalwarts for tried-and-true plant breeding methods say gene editing could give rise to dangerous mutations or to crops that could be patented by large ag companies trying to monopolize staple crops. 

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Gideon Henderson, an Oxford University geochemist who represents the “pro” camp… said during an online panel in April held by a British NGO called the Sustainable Food Trust that gene editing will make crops more resilient in the face of climate change. 

“As climate warms, and as it already is, we’re seeing stress to our crop systems, particularly in the developing world,” he said. “Gene editing will help us build crops that can resist drought and thrive under heat stress.”

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