Gene editing is a technology that offers tremendous benefit to society through food production improvements. The precision, potential to solve a broad array of challenges, and the relative affordability of the technology has resulted in growing interest in gene editing. As more agricultural organizations and food companies explore gene editing, a question comes to mind. Do we, as food system leaders, have consumers’ permission to utilize gene editing technologies in food production? To address this question, CFI members and partners formed the Coalition for Responsible Gene Editing in Agriculture last fall to engage with consumers and stakeholders, working together to earn permission and trust around gene editing.
What is gene editing?
Gene editing makes precise, intentional and beneficial changes in the genetic material of plants and animals used in food production, which can improve their health and sustainability. This often mirrors changes that could occur in nature or through traditional breeding. Gene editing helps farmers keep pace with the growing demand for more and better food, while using less water, land, nutrients and other resources.
What is the role of the Coalition?
The Coalition for Responsible Gene Editing in Agriculture has been working to develop guidelines for use, along with stakeholder and consumer engagement plans.
Agriculture and food system leaders feel it is imperative to openly and transparently communicate with stakeholders and consumers about the expectations for responsible use of gene editing technology as more products are in development. The Coalition’s Leadership Team, working with researchers and university experts, is developing principles and guidelines that will be important to demonstrate transparency and responsibility as gene editing applications evolve. The Coalition will encourage the widespread adoption of the responsible use principles and guidelines by all entities utilizing gene editing technologies in agriculture.
In stakeholder and consumer engagement, the Coalition is pursuing a four-phase approach to grow trust in gene editing based on CFI’s research, models and experience. This plan includes:
• Identifying the most impactful influencers and true motivations toward gene editing beliefs;
• Creating content that is consistent, creative and compelling;
• Listening to and engaging with consumers, online influencers and media;
• And empowering organizations that influence social license to support and advocate.
The Coalition’s Leadership and CFI staff are currently working to secure additional Coalition Leaders and Participants to initiate the next phase of stakeholder and consumer engagement. Over the years, CFI has found the most successful coalitions are those with Leaders and Participants that reflect the diversity of the food system.
To learn more about how your organization may be an active Coalition Leader or Participant, contact Morgan Young or call (816) 556-3135.