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The Bunker

Daily: Gene Genius? The pros and cons of DNA modification


Is gene-editing – replacing sections of DNA to make plants and animals more fertile or resistant to disease – really our escape route from the threats of climate change and population growth? Since Brexit the British Government has been tearing up tight EU legislation on the practice, with DEFRA now allowing it for crops. But do we really understand the difference between gene editing and modification (GMO), or its complex environmental and social implications? 

Alex Andreou chews over gene editing with two experts from both sides of the debate, agriculturalist and member of the Food Ethics Council Patrick Mulvany and Professor Nick Talbot, Executive Director of The Sainsbury Laboratory.

“We need to do something about farming and food production in the face of the climate emergency.” - Professor Nick Talbot 

“The status quo in agriculture cannot be maintained.” - Professor Nick Talbot 

“You have to set aside the precautionary principle in the face of the existential threat of climate change.” - Professor Nick Talbot

“Gene editing should be part of our panoply of food innovations that we need to feed people by 2050.” - Professor Nick Talbot

“We need smaller farmers to have access to these technologies. Agriculture is still dominated by the big multinationals.” - Professor Nick Talbot

“There's no shortage of innovation. Placing all our emphasis on gene editing is not sustainable.” - Patrick Mulvany

Presented by Alex Andreou. Produced by Andrew Harrison. Assistant producers: Jelena Sofronijevic and Jacob Archbold. Music by Kenny Dickinson. Audio production by Alex Rees. THE BUNKER is a Podmasters Production