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August 20th, 2019 / Alliance for Science, US

Effective science and communication collaborations are critical to ensure gene editing technology does not suffer from the “perception problem” now facing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), a plant pathologist warned.

“I want to feed the world sustainably. That’s what motivates me as a scientist,” said Jim Bradeen, head of the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Minnesota. “I will be hugely disappointed if gene editing goes the way of GMO approaches” to crop breeding.

“Technologies are neutral,” Bradeen told reporters at the recent International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) in Minneapolis, Minn. “They are not good; they are not bad. It’s the way we use them that matters. I would love to see the conversation focused on that. How do customers want us to use such technologies?”

Ongoing investments into gene editing research are a move in the right direction, he said. But they must be balanced with effective communication so the “application plays out in a positive way. I think scientists need to play a role; communicators need to play a role. We need to work together to make sure we are communicating openly and effectively about what these technologies are, what the potential is and what the risks are.” Read more …