A 2015 Pew Research poll found that 57 percent of Americans think genetically modified food is unsafe.
Similarly, a 2012 poll of Canadians determined that 59 percent of people believe GM food is unsafe.
Scientists, the biotech industry and farmers have tried to convince the public that GMOs are benign but have had minimal success.
Much of the public’s fear is connected to transgenic technology, where genes from one type of species are inserted into another (e.g., plants) to achieve a desired trait such as insect resistance in corn.
The public’s hostility to transgenics has forced government regulators to increase oversight of GM crops. It can now take more than a decade, and millions of dollars, to commercialize a GM trait for a crop.
Some scientists are promoting a new technology, genome editing, as a way to develop innovative crop traits without the messy public relations and regulatory hassle of transgenics.
Genome editing is a highly precise and efficient way to alter a particular gene within a plant’s DNA.
Given the unpopularity of the old GM technology, should researchers and the crop science industry abandon transgenics and adopt genome editing? More to follow…