IMAGINE having a pair of magic scissors that would allow you to ‘improve’ natural food. With these scissors you could cut away all the annoying things about it and paste in desirable new characteristics: higher yields, superior nutrients, and so on. Theoretically speaking, such a technology is with us now: gene or genome editing. The most publicised of these “molecular scissors” to date is CRISPR, but there are others.
Despite the diplomatically opaque new name, gene editing is turbo-charged genetic engineering, only so far with better PR. But if the free traders and corporate influencers in Westminster get their way and deregulate the law that currently governs genetic engineering there, gene edited foods could be green lighted, unlabelled, for English plates, so that most people wouldn’t realise that they were eating them.
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