In a provocative Twitter thread the Guardian columnist and environment activist George Monbiot has compared opposition to precision fermentation – a form of synthetic biology – to the early hostility to wind turbines.
He writes: “Just as opposition to wind turbines was strongly associated with climate denial, opposition to new food sources is strongly associated with denial of the impacts of the current food system. Earth systems cannot sustain the current food system. It is driving us towards catastrophe. Precision fermentation is one of the approaches that offers a way out: greatly reducing land, water and fertiliser demand”.
“to dismiss a new technology because, like almost all technologies, it can be captured, is irrational”
While Monbiot acknowledges the “genuine danger” that precision fermentation and other novel forms of genetic engineering “could succumb to the corporate capture and concentration that dominate the current system”, he says that “to dismiss a new technology because, like almost all technologies, it can be captured, is irrational”. Instead of fighting against a technology, he argues, the political fight should be refocused to “demand justice everywhere, to lock in just transitions and environmental restoration”.