Addition and Deletion are two types of Modification.
So how could one consider CRISPR-Cas not GMO? It seems tautological, true by definition.
@robin The definitions are murky but GMO is considered a transgenetic modification. If you have a single basepair innsertion, deletion, and modification it's not generally conisdered GM. The rational is that these are common mutational operators that could occur in nature. Transgenetic modification is different. Bt corn introduced genes from the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis. The bacteria is a natural pesticide used by organic farmers and the gene was inserted to be expressed in the plant (Ideally you isolate your expression to the green tissue!). Similarly, roundup ready corn came from a gene in bacteria. In a normal plant, glyphosate will inhibit the expression of an enzyme EPSPS. The inserted gene makes up for this loss of function by producing amino acids necessary for the plant to produce EPSPS.
Yeah I think there's a danger bunching them together, although you are absolutely right - it's still modification. But most concerns with GMO (as far as I know) are around that introduction of foreign genetics which is "unnatural" - addition and deletion of genes from the same DNA can happen in natural processes and breeding. I think that distinction is important, but how to define and educate on it will be very tough!
More research is needed and extensive Communication. There is an important difference between editing as CRISPR-Cas and GMO, but it will be hard to communicate all through the supply chain.
It starts with engaging the organic lobby. If you can't find a way to win them over it'll be a tough climb because they can scare the consumer. I think the starting point is with traits that improve nutrition, for instance, reintroducing heirloom traits that improve nutritional spectrum that may have been lost with selection for size/logistics/shelf aesthetics. You could focus on gastronomic improvements and start at the high end of the market.
The definition of GMO is pretty murky. You can apply radiation to induce mutagenesis and that's okay because it's grandfathered in. That's like taking a shotgun to the genome. But ultimately it's the consumer sentiment that matters.
There's definitely a fine line here around transparency and consumer acceptance. I've seen presentations from Monsanto breeders who make it sound like they use the same process today that they used 100 years ago. There has to be a way to explain tech that doesn't scare ppl, but guessing the speaker matters here too.
Will consumers be able to understand the nuanced difference between GMO and gene-editing? I know I prefer the idea of editing versus introducing foreign DNA into a species' genome, particularly as genes are removed in nature with natural selection and also with traditional breeding - but both are genetic modification/engineering really. Maybe we need new terms to spell out more clearly to consumers what's going on?