Wednesday, July 25, 2018

EU Scientists Weep ... and the Activists Cheer

Today in the most recent reminder that governments are not to be trusted with scientific decisions, the Court of Justice of the European Union has decided handed down a ruling that they don't understand science.  

They have affirmed that gene edited crops are to be treated the same as transgenic crops.  This means that they will never be approved for use in the EU.

Friends of the Earth = Enemies of Progress
Why does an organization that has a good record of standing up for many important environmental and social issues, make the tremendous mistake of fighting technology? 

However, crops featuring genetic innovations due to mutagenesis are just fine.  In other words, treat plant materials with radiation or chemicals to break chromosomes, rearrange chunks of DNA or change thousands of sequences in unknown ways -- that's good! 

No testing, no environmental assessment, no labels. 

But if you make a single base change out of billions of bases, and you know what the gene does, and it helps farmers, the environment or the poor-- fugettaboutit. 

My heart goes out to the European scientists that have dedicated their lives to crop improvement or research.  Again you have had your hands tied by regressive rules. 

My fist goes out to the activist organizations that applaud the ruling, again showing that technology is something to fear and restrict, even if it can help ease environmental impact or world hunger. 

From Dana Perls, Friends of the Earth U.S.- 

These genetic engineering techniques could radically change our food system, threatening non-GMO and organic agriculture and the livelihoods that depend on it. We applaud the European Court of Justice for this forward-thinking decision and encourage the USDA to follow its lead. All products made with genetic engineering, including ones made with gene-editing tools like CRISPR, should be regulated, assessed for health and environmental impacts, and labeled.

If there's any silver lining on Brexit it might be that the UK will be able to define its own rules, science the heck out of crops, and then become a leader in supplying farmers with superior seeds and products. 

But for now, it is just another reminder that we should stop letting politicians dictate the boundaries of research and its beneficial applications.  Such blanket pronouncements stifle innovation, and keep good technologies from reaching their targets. 

A Response to Carey Gillam