b"ES: COUNTRIES HAVE ALL KINDS OF REASONS TOradiation that results in hundreds of random changes are per-DIVERGE FROM THE INTERNATIONALLY AGREEDfectly safe. It almost reads like a parody.REGULATIONS, AND WITH THAT DIVERGENCE COMES A STIFLING OF FREE TRADE. HOW TO CONVINCEES: MOST FOOD, FEED AND FIBER STARTS WITH COUNTRIES THAT GLOBAL ALIGNMENT OF THEIRSEEDS. SO, IT SEEMS CRUCIAL THAT WE BOOST REGULATIONS BENEFITS FREE TRADE AND BENEFITS ALL? PLANT BREEDING TO CREATE HIGHER YIELDING AND JN:They might think that they take back control when they haveMORE PRODUCTIVE VARIETIES. YET WE ARE SEEING A their own local standards, but in reality, it is often regulatoryMOVEMENT TOWARDS OLDER AND LESS PRODUCTIVE capture from local businesses and interests, who want to tailorVARIETIES. HOW CAN WE BETTER COMMUNICATE THE those standards to keep the competition out. This is just protec- BENEFITS OF SCIENCE?tionism through the backdoor. Its important to explain to peopleJN:Yes, I think Douglas Adams explained it best in his attempt that more open standards and international agreements is a wayto understand peoples reaction to technologies: 1. Anything to open up for more competition, diversity and innovation, andthat is in the world when youre born is just a natural part of the this is what helps consumers and makes economies progress.way the world works. 2. Anything that's invented between when And if some governments and local interests dont listen, we haveyoure 15 and 35 is new and exciting and you to explain that a world without this is acan probably get a career in it. 3. Anything world where the rest of the world alsoinvented after you're 35 is against the nat-tailor their own standards to their ownural order of things.situation and keep you and your goodsAnd then its perfectly understand-and services out. able that people long for what is natural, what they can recognize, rather than the ES: COMING FROM THE SEEDstrange new stuff. I find that people under-SECTOR, I FOUND THE FIRSTstand it better when you explain that we CHAPTER ON FOOD HIGHLYhave always engaged in plant breeding, INTERESTING. FAMINE WENTand everything that we use and eat and FROM BEING A UNIVERSALtreasure today is the result of experi-PHENOMENON TO BEING ANments that previous generations thought EXCEPTION AFFECTING ONLY Awas against the natural order of things. SMALL FRACTION OF THE WORLD.And then we also have to provide them WHAT ELSE SHOULD BE DONE TOwith specific examples of the real bene-DECREASE HUNGER? fits to consumers, farmers and society.JN:The green revolution has been an extraordinary achievement. The share ofES: WE KNOW THAT ORGANIC chronically undernourished globally hasAGRICULTURE HAS CAUSED declined from around 5 in 10 to around 1NUMEROUS FATALITIES (MOSTLY in 10 since the 1940s, despite an increaseTHROUGH CONTAMINATION in world population by almost 5 billionWITH E. COLI), WHEREAS GM that made everyone expect us to see aHAS CAUSED NONE. WHAT massive increase in hunger. But we haveIS WRONG WITH THE RISK-to continue. We have to increase agricul- PERCEPTION OF MANKIND?tural production dramatically to feed theJN:This is precisely the Douglas Adams 10 billion people by 2050. I think the greenlaw of technologies again! We just assume that what we already revolution has some way to go. Many poor places, especially inhave is good, because we are used to it. It just feels better, it has Africa needs more fertilizer, pesticides and efficient irrigation.nothing to do with evidence. I saw one study about how 70 per But in most places we have already reached the optimum, andcent like organic farming, but when they were asked to define if we dont want to clear the remaining forests of the world, weit, only 20 per cent thought that they could.need better crops to increase the yield. We need plant scienceAnd this is exactly the problem with the precautionary prin-and we need GMOs.ciple, it is basically the idea that we should never do anything for the first time, because there might be some risk associated ES: RECENTLY THE EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICEwith it. Then we just accept much worse problems with old tech-RULED THAT PLANT BREEDING INNOVATIONnologiesand you know starving is not entirely risk-free either! PRODUCTS SHOULD BE REGULATED IN THE SAME WAYAnd this introduces an entirely arbitrary divide between old and AS GMOS? WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THIS DECISION? new technologies. Very few of the technologies that we use today JN:Well, if we had a rational, evidence-based regulatory processwould have been allowed had we had some kind of precautionary for GMOs, it would not matter that much, but as things are now, Iprinciple in place when it was first used.think its a nightmare. It turns Europe into a scientific backwater as it makes it near impossible for new innovative solutions to dealEditors Note: This story has been condensed for print. with world hunger and unhealthy eating habits to see the light ofTo read the full version, go to european-seed.com.day, at least for everybody but the biggest agri-businesses who might afford the regulatory costs.It is also absurd, since the ECJ seems to say that genewww.johannorberg.net/ editing, which makes very precise and predictable changes to a plants genome, is dangerous and risky, whereas exposure to 30IEUROPEAN SEEDIEUROPEAN-SEED.COM"