“Crop gene editing emerged just over a decade ago as a promising set of biotechnology techniques designed to more quickly and precisely introduce new or altered genes to change plant characteristics for better growth, product quality, processing, nutrition, or sustainability. Scientists in academia and the ag-biotech industry alike are promoting gene editing, through techniques such as CRISPR-Cas9, as the start of a second biotechnology revolution in agriculture.”
This article reviews the current state of gene-editing regulation for crops, illuminating the ways in which technology developers are repeating practices that may lead to the public and ethical failures of the first generation genetically engineered crops. Although these developers have expressed desires to do things differently from a public communication and responsibility standpoint, their current oversight and communication practices are 1) obscuring the presence of gene editing on new food labels, 2) marginalizing non-expert stakeholders and publics from providing input, 3) promoting a anti-regulatory stance for gene editing, and 4) hiding behind “science-based” arguments that are inconsistent. The article argues that the contentious socio-political history of genetic engineering will repeat itself for gene editing if these practices continue.
Dr. Jennifer Kuzma in a Goodnight-NC GSK Foundation Distinguished Professor in Public and International Affairs and Co-director of the Genetic Engineering and Society Center at NC State University.