Genome Editing Not a Solution to Climate Change

TWN Info Service on Biosafety
7 December 2021
Third World Network

Dear Friends and Colleagues

Genome Editing Not a Solution to Climate Change

Industrial farming and especially industrial animal feed production is a major driver of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, and the agricultural sector is struggling to cope with the consequences of that climate disruption. Effective solutions must be two-pronged: to both reduce the environmental impact of agriculture, and to make the sector more resilient to climate impacts.

The biotechnology industry and its supporters are promoting new GMOs techniques, such as genome editing, as the key to maintaining food production in these new unstable climate conditions. A new report entitled “Editing the Truth – Genome Editing is not a Solution to Climate Change” addresses this issue. The report shows why the new generation of GMOs is just another set of empty promises after 20 years of failing to deliver.

Firstly, there are risks with genome editing. The complex genetic codes of plants and animals have evolved over millennia and each part of their genetic code affects every other. Tweaking one gene will have knock-on impacts on the whole organism that are hard to predict and even harder to control.

Secondly, the resilience of plants and arable farming lies in diversity. GMO science relies on predictability. But building resilience to climate change means preparing for the opposite: rapidly changing climates, different soil conditions, and maximising diversity to ensure crop survival in the face of disease and disruption. Not only that, but some GMO technologies like ‘gene drives’, where the modification is copied onto offspring, have unknown long-term effects on plant health and cannot be stopped once released into nature.

Thirdly, this scientific experimentation is diverting time, investment and attention away from real and already proven solutions. They do not tackle the fundamental unsustainability of industrial farming and offer only at best short-term relief of the symptoms.

The report calls for support to sustainable farming technologies such as agroecology that already exist, are proven to work and could be implemented on a wide scale today, rather than sinking public money into GMO technologies that are seeking to maintain the status quo of industrial agriculture, no matter the cost to the planet and public health. Agroecological practices, which are based on agricultural diversity and the combination of scientific and traditional knowledge, have the power to: slash greenhouse gas emissions, generate more stable and resilient yields, support smallholder farmers, maintain soil fertility for long-term production, promote food democracy and a fair balance of power in the food chain.

The full report can be found here:


With best wishes,

Third World Network

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