Gene editing could be the rural electrification of our time - US
Biotechnology advances such as gene editing could be the rural electrification of our time, according to Ted McKinney, the US Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs.
Speaking at the Agricultural Science Association (ASA) conference in Naas, McKinney called on Ireland to be 'bold' in its work in the EU, saying that the US needs Ireland's "common sense voice" in Europe, particularly if the UK exits Europe.
McKinney, who has a strong background in biotechnology, on his first trip to Ireland said that the world now has the technologies today to address many issues around feeding the worlds population, but that we are at a crossroads on where science can deliver solutions.
"You are now faced with a decision. Are you as a science association going to say we need those tools in the world?"
Gene editing, he said, is not GMO, but it is technology that could be incredibly valuable in the world and he said it could have a similar impact to rural electrification.
"I think it will take its place if it is allowed to fly."
He also urged Ireland not to shrug its shoulders and wait for "the narrative will be stolen by Greenpeace".
McKinney asked if you could develop healthier oils, that will eliminate trans fats and bring saturated fats down in the diet, and increase sustainability, would you be interested? Or, if you could produce crops with significantly less pesticide use, would you?