Publication date: 21/11/2018


Many technologies, at the time of their inception, have appeared efficacious, safe, and generally a good idea, based on the science at the time. However, in a number of cases, a technology that was once deemed appropriate and desirable has later turned out to be not such a good idea after all. Not only has it failed to deliver on its promises, but it has given rise to environmental damage and negative health impacts. Such technologies have ended up being abandoned or tightly restricted.

There are many examples from history. Asbestos, DDT insecticides, leaded gasoline, and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) in electrical goods were all once hailed as great innovations, but as we grew in our understanding of the mechanisms and complexities of nature’s functioning, we found they could have devastating effects on the health of humans and animals.

We continue to learn from our catastrophic mistakes, but only after serious damage has already occurred to health and the environment. In order to avoid such damage, we need to constantly review each technology from the perspective of the science from which it is derived. Transgenic and genome editing technologies are no exception.

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