Speaking during the Bayer Future of Farming online conference, Liam Condon, president of crop science at Bayer, said the company is lobbying “very strongly” to change the EU’s GMO regulations to exempt gene editing, according to an article in the Farmers Guardian.
Mr Condon said,
“[We are] promoting very strongly that regulations should catch up with technology and allow this technology to be used, [not only] for the benefit of Europeans, but also for the benefit of others all over the world who look to Europe for regulations.”
According to the Farmers Guardian, Mr Condon described gene editing and CRISPR technology as an “amazing breakthrough” that would allow agriculture to be more sustainable. But he said the main issue was Europe’s regulatory process, which approaches newer GM technology in the same way as “old” transgenic GMOs. This meant it would not be possible to develop crops suited to Europe because it would be too expensive to carry out all the trials that are required here.
In reality, however, neither old nor new GM has the potential to make agriculture more sustainable, as a new scientific review has found.
And the EU’s GMO regulations don’t stop countries carrying out GMO research trials – the UK has up to recently been part of the EU and continues to host such trials – with nothing of value to show for them.
Mr Condon plays the guilt card by invoking droughts and floods in Africa and Asia, claiming, “If Europe continues to make life very difficult for GE, that means that technology will probably also not evolve in Africa where they really need it.”
But GM has failed to produce useful crops for drought and flood conditions, where conventional breeding has succeeded. And the history of GM crops in Africa is one of unmitigated failure that has left livelihoods in ruins – see the book GMO Myths and Truths for detailed accounts of several examples.
Bayer’s Mr Condon needs to form a healthy relationship with the truth and stop misleading Europe’s public and regulators.
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Featured image is by Sebastian Rittau via Wikimedia Commons