The public links gene-editing technology with genetically modified engineering which many distrust, according to a recent public opinion poll done for CropLife Canada.
About 40 per cent of those polled made that link.
And 35 to 40 per cent of Canadians think genetically-modified foods (GMOs) are not safe.
They seem to not understand that GMOs involve transferring genes between species while gene-editing technology involving CRISPR to identify genes is using existing genes within a species and that it is similar to plant breeding stretching back thousands of years to selecting superior plants for matings.
What CRISPR enables is identification of specific genes so breeding becomes precise and much faster than trial-and-error matings.
The polling results are important because governments, including in Canada, have yet to decide how to treat crop varieties, livestock and poultry developed with the help of CRISPR and whether product labeling will be necessary.