Green genes: Germany’s top organic researcher says environmentalists should embrace CRISPR editing

Spotlight sustainable Agriculture

[Editor’s note: The following is a Q&A with Urs Niggli, director of the Research Institute for Organic Agriculture in Germany. It has been translated from German by Google.]

New techniques are currently revolutionizing genetic research. They allow extremely precise changes to the genome…. This so-called genetic surgery changes the debate about the risks and chances of interventions in the genome.

Urs Niggli

Mr. Niggli is currently discussing a new form of “Green Genetic Engineering” …. The so-called CRISPR/Cas method is the focus of the debate.

What could be achieved with this procedure?

[T]here are already new varieties of wheat, maize, millet, rice and tomato. … For farmers — even for eco-farmers — the new method opens up many opportunities: plants that are better suited to difficult environmental conditions — such as drought, soil dampness or salinization — can be bred. The fine root architecture could be improved so that the roots absorb more nutrients such as phosphorus or nitrogen from the soil. Tolerance or resistance to diseases and parasites, storage and quality of food and feed could also be improved. Critics like to dismiss these possibilities as empty promises. I think these are obviously ecological improvements that can reduce the big problems of conventional agriculture.

I strongly advocate a case-by-case approach and am opposed to a general demonization of the new genetic engineering.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Eco-researcher: “I am against a general demonization of the new genetic engineering” (IN GERMAN)

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