July 18, 2019

Good Riddance to the GMO Panic

“In the United States, the public panic about the dangers of genetically modified foods is fading fast. This is an amazing—and rare—triumph of reason and science over public hysteria and political posturing.

On Monday, for example, the New York Times published an article by Knuvul Sheikh detailing recent advances in genetically modified crops without offering a single word about potential health dangers or environmental concerns. In fact, it seems there’s a rebranding effort on the left to hype GMO foods as a vital response to climate change.

After describing the benefits of growing plants under artificial light conditions, Sheikh writes: “Researchers have also adopted new genetic techniques to optimize flowering times and make plants more resistant to the rigors of a warming planet.” What types of techniques? None other than Crispr-style gene editing: “Unlike older crossbreeding and crop modification techniques, newer tools like Crispr allow scientists to snip out portions of the plant’s own DNA that may make it vulnerable to disease. [Plant geneticist] Dr. [Lee] Hickey and his team are working on adding Crispr machinery directly into barley and sorghum saplings, in order to modify the plants’ genes while simultaneously speed breeding them.””

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