Some gene editing claims are ‘gravity defying nonsense’, Holden warns


Some of the claims being made for genome editing in an agricultural setting are “gravity defying nonsense”, a leading figure from the UK organic and sustainable farming scene has warned. 

Patrick Holden, founder of the Sustainable Food Trust, was responding to new UK government proposals to allow gene-editing in the UK, with the launch of a new consultation on genetic technologies.

In a blog post, Holden acknowledges that genome editing has the potential, as any new technology does, to “be used for good or ill”. But he says the present government’s “infatuation with technological fixes and its conviction that only further intensification can feed a hungry world, gene editing” means that it is much more likely to “accelerate the devastating narrowing of the gene pool which has been a feature of postwar farming, not only in the UK but throughout the world”. 

Holden describes some of the claims being made about the benefits of gene edited crops as “simply gravity drying nonsense”, predicated on the “erroneous conviction that plant breeding can somehow magically develop plants which are drought and disease resistant, salt tolerant and at the same time produce increased quantities of nutrient dense food”. He also predicts “horrific” implications for an animal welfare.