Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Scientist says education and transparency key to public’s acceptance of gene editing

INFORMING: Dr Craig Simpson addressing the Scottish Society for Crop Research at Invergowrie.

A leading crop scientist has emphasised the importance of education, transparency and social dialogue in achieving widespread acceptance and trust of gene editing techniques in agriculture.

However, in the week the UK Government introduced new legislation to speed up the development of gene-edited crops, Dr Craig Simpson – a plant molecular biologist and experimental scientist at the James Hutton Institute – pointed out the technique was not a panacea, and in some cases conventional breeding or GM would be the best way of transferring genes.

Speaking to a meeting of the Scottish Society for Crop Research (SSCR) at Invergowrie, Dr Simpson said: “It will not replace good farming practice and land management. We will need to use everything we’ve got.”

Dr Simpson is  a plant molecular biologist and experimental scientist at the James Hutton Institute .

Dr Simpson said it was essential for scientists to be open and to explain precisely what is involved in gene editing – even if it is difficult to understand.

“For instance, one of the main reservations expressed by the public is that releasing new crops into the environment could have an impact on wild populations. But all crops – whether conventional, GM or gene-edited – can affect the genetic diversity of a wild population,” he said.

“A third of the wild hybrids found in the British Isles have one or more foreign parents, largely as a result of garden centres bringing in plants from around the world which have cross hybridised with some of our wild hybrids, “Genetic exchange has been observed between oilseed rape and wild turnip in the UK. So hybridisation can happen.”

Precision

Dr Simpson said gene editing – otherwise known as precision breeding – is exciting for agriculture because it can optimise crop production.

“Global agriculture is under a lot of pressure, with more mouths to feed,” he said

“Yields are beginning to plateau out, so we need to develop new crops, and farmers are having to reduce inputs. We also waste a third of our food, the amount of land we have is becoming more limited, we need to adapt to a changing climate, and we have to deal with declining biodiversity. Also war has highlighted the limitations of our food chain, so there is a need for us to increase our food production,”

Benefits

He added that gene-editing brought benefits such as improved nutrient content, increased carbon sequestration, extended shelf life, improved flavour, disease resistance, and adapting varieties to year-round production.

SSCR chairman, Dr Keith Dawson said the society was extremely supportive of the technology.

“We hope the Scottish Government can recognise its promise and come into line with legislation elsewhere in the world while still protecting the important provenance of our Scottish produce,” he said.

Dr Bill MacFarlane Smith (L) was thanked for his service by  SSCR chairman, Dr Keith Dawson.

Dr Dawson also presented a gift to Dr Bill MacFarlane Smith in honour of his long service as the society’s honorary secretary.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]