The world’s first Golden Rice harvest recently took place in the Philippines. The rice is enriched with a beta carotene gene, which can be converted into vitamin A in the human body. The aim is to bring an end to the widespread vitamin A deficiencies in developing countries. But there has been and still is massive resistance to growing it.
The British Parliament is planning to pass a law that will provide new legislation for new breeding technologies, such as genome editing. This new legislation will pave the way for Great Britain to become a leading figure in agri-food research.
The coronavirus pandemic, the Ukraine war and the energy crisis have all brought the vulnerability of supply chains into sharp relief. In an interview with the Tages-Anzeiger, the Director of the Federal Office for Agriculture, Christian Hofer, warns against becoming too dependent on food imports. Switzerland must take care of its food security.
Bioengineered crops have been cultivated in many parts of the world for around 25 years. Several publications bear witness to the great benefits of biotechnology in agriculture. The cultivation of the plants has a positive effect on the environment, the climate and yields for farmers.
Organic products have to be taken off retailers’ shelves at an above-average rate. The reason for this is toxins from plants harvested together with the organic produce or from molds. They can be controlled less well in organic agriculture than in conventional agriculture.
There are now more skeptics than ever before when it comes to biotechnological plant breeding methods, despite 30 years of research having produced a clear data basis. Conventional genetic engineering or the more modern CRISPR/Cas method present no increased risks compared to traditional breeding methods, such as cross-breeding.
Around one third of the people on the African continent live without safe access to water. According to the United Nations, even in the most water-rich regions of the continent there is insufficient water security. In addition, the large groundwater reserves in Africa are virtually unused. In the most recent World Water Report, the UN therefore calls for intelligent use of groundwater.
Great Britain has already decided on its first steps, Switzerland has too: The handling of simple genome-edited plants is being made easier.
The Swiss Parliament has decided to update the genetic engineering moratorium that has been in place since 2005. The step was overdue. On the occasion of a webinar organized by swiss-food.ch, experts from science and agriculture spoke about the benefits of new biotechnological breeding methods. It became clear: the risks are low, the opportunities are great.
The Council of States (upper house of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland) intends to allow genome editing provided that no foreign genetic material is inserted into new plant varieties through this method. The decision is causing consternation among genetic engineering skeptics. But you only have to look at their arguments to see that the opponents of genetic engineering are fighting with yesterday’s weapons.
The federal figures for the volume of plant protection products sold in 2020 offer a contradictory picture: total sales figures for plant protection products have continued to decline. In 2020, 1930 tonnes of plant protection products were sold in Switzerland in total. There was an increase in the sale of plant protection products permitted for use in organic farming. This also includes substances that pose a considerable risk.
For about 15 years now, the story of alleged colony collapse disorder has persisted in the media, often attributed to pesticides and genetically modified plants. There is increasing evidence, however, that worldwide honey bee populations remain stable or are even growing.
Professor Nuno Maulide is Director of the Institute of Organic Chemistry at the University of Vienna. The Portuguese-born professor talks about misunderstood chemistry in an interview with Visao, a Portuguese news magazine.
Europeans are still resisting the cultivation of genetically modified crops – but this doesn’t mean they want to forgo the benefits of these products.
If you look closely, you can see: The number comes from a 35-year-old study. In a thought experiment at the time, suicides involving pesticides in Sri Lanka were extrapolated worldwide.
Danger and risk are often confused in the discussion surrounding pesticides. Sometimes the two terms are even used synonymously. That is as incorrect as it is negligent, because dangerous substances do not always present a high risk. By the same token, substances that are not considered to be dangerous can indeed pose a risk. Danger and risk are therefore not identical.
The second Swiss-Food Talk was attended by three internationally recognised experts from the fields of toxicology, water protection and food safety. They discussed the handling of limit values and the partly wrong interpretation in the public discourse. The scientists pleaded for more objectivity.
Everything that occurs in nature is healthy and synthetically produced substances, i.e. "chemical" substances, are toxic. This myth is fundamentally wrong: There are many highly toxic substances in nature, and at the same time there are many synthetic substances that are absolutely harmless.