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“Give genes a chance!” Over 1,000 scientists in 14 countries hold historic demonstrations in support of gene editing

Europe, Tuesday 6th Feb. Over 1,000 scientists in 14 European nations have held unprecedented demonstrations across the continent urging MEPs to back New Genomic Techniques (NGTs) ahead of a crunch vote in the EU parliament tomorrow.

Gene editing technology, argue demonstrators from 29 European universities, will create crops that use less pesticides, are more resistant to disease and are more climate resilient - but only if scientists and plant breeders are allowed to use them outside the lab.

Planet scientists from University of Verona rally in support of New Genomic Techniques (NGTs) ahead of crunch vote in EU parliament.
Planet scientists from University of Verona rally in support of New Genomic Techniques (NGTs) ahead of crunch vote in EU parliament.

The rare display of activism from the scientific community comes after 37 Nobel laureates and over 1,500 scientists wrote to MEPs last month calling on them to “reject the darkness of anti-science fearmongering” in the face of a fierce campaign run by anti-GMO activists. 

“This is fundamentally about whether Europe trusts in scientists or not.” says Dr Hidde Boersma PHD, a Dutch microbiologist and spokesperson for WePlanet who coordinated the campaign. “The scientific community is overwhelmingly united in supporting NGTs and stands ready to use them to dramatically reduce pesticide use, create land efficient high yield crops and unlock billions of Euros of economic growth. It’s time to reject superstition and believe in Europe’s young scientists.” 

Collage of groups of scientists rallying across Europe in support of NGTs
1,002 scientists from 29 Universities in 14 European nations took part in the action

Holding banners reading “Support science, support NGTs!” and “Give genes a chance!”, a total of 1,002 professors and researchers from 29 universities took part. A full list of universities participating can be found here. In an effort to swing the vote in favour of NGTs, participants tagged undecided MEPs on X, formerly Twitter, and undertook a mass email writing campaign to local MEPs throughout the day.   

The action was coordinated by WePlanet, an international ecohumanist NGO that also campaigns for nuclear power, cellular agriculture and rewilding large areas of Europe. 

Joel Scott-Halkes, Campaigns Director for WePlanet says: “We’ve been blown away by this demonstration of support for NGTs from the scientific community. To see over 1,000 scientists in 14 nations taking coordinated action on one day is a historic display of scientists’ dedication to build a more sustainable future. Lets hope MEPs share that dedication when they vote tomorrow!” 

Background information:

  • The most notable New Genomic Technique under consideration is CRISPR-cas9, also known as ‘genetic scissors’. Unlike tradition GMOs, the technique does not “import” DNA from other organisms and instead “edits” parts of the of organisms own genome to obtain desirable traits.  

  • The vote will be held in the Strasbourg Plenary on 7th February, with a debate on the afternoon of the 6th. It will consider a proposal by the EU commission to relax regulations on NGTs. Similar legislation was passed in the UK following Brexit making NGTs legal in that country. 

  • The open letter signed by 37 Nobel prizes winners and over 1,500 scientists can be read in full here.

  • WePlanet is entirely charitably funded and has no industry links, funding or partnerships. Please find our transparency statement here

  • A recent report found that rejecting New Genomic Techniques in Europe could cost up to 3 trillion in missed economic opportunities.

About WePlanet

WePlanet (formerly RePlanet) is a new, charitably-funded global environmental NGO with campaigners in 15 different countries across Europe, Africa and the Asia-Pacific. United under the emerging philosophy of eco-humanism, WePlanet is unique among environmental NGOs for promoting the use of technologies such as advanced nuclear power, cellular agriculture and gene editing. It aims to see 50%-75% of Europe rewilded, animal farming disrupted, the climate cooled and energy abundance achieved in the Global South.


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