Environment department scientist calls for biotechnology debate

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Gideon Henderson says debate needed on GM crops and gene editing of plants and animals

Gideon Henderson, chief scientist at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, believes the time is ripe for a new public debate on biotechnology, the science of manipulating genes in crops and animals.

“The last time we had an extensive public discussion was in the 1990s,” he notes. Then, public outrage at the idea of ‘Frankenfoods’ centred on fears of what might result from newly available techniques that allowed the introduction of genes from one species into a completely different species. Lurid stories of tomatoes altered with fish genes grabbed the headlines.

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