Gene editing and agroecology compatible? Yes, and they may lead to more eco-friendly farming

Sustainable Agriculture x

New gene techniques and agro-ecology can reinforce each other in making agriculture more sustainable, say researchers at Wageningen University & Research. This includes a debate that focuses on issues such as due diligence-wide access to these techniques and, above all, mutual respect for the views of supporters and opponents.

In a recently published paper in Outlook on Agriculture, WUR researchers Bert Lotz, Clemens van de Wiel and René Smulders investigate the compatibility of new gene techniques and agroecology. They do this by looking at how different applications of genetic modification and new breeding techniques such as CRISPR / Cas can make crops more resistant to major diseases and pests. As a result, the use of plant protection products can be considerably reduced and, for example, better opportunities are created to suppress other pests with natural attackers, such as insects that eat or parasitize pest insects.

The researched applications of genetic engineering make a major contribution to the objectives of agro-ecology-based agriculture: minimal dependence on chemical pesticides in combination with mostly preventive IPM measures (Integrated Pest Management), which together create a robust cultivation system.

In this system, growers can also fall back on biological pest and disease control and the entire agro-ecosystem will experience as little disruption as possible. An additional advantage is that the costs for the grower can be reduced. Genetic techniques can – under the right conditions – also contribute to financial sustainability in agriculture.

Related article:  US patent office reopens Broad Institute—University of California CRISPR patent dispute

To investigate the compatibility of genetic engineering and agroecology, the authors focus on several points.

Risk perception: In the social debate about genetic modification, it is often about possible risks that would be associated with growing crops that have been bred with new techniques. In their publication, the researchers show that these risks are in principle the same or even smaller in the applications they have examined than those in the cultivation of crops that have been bred with conventional techniques.

Ethics: For some groups within the agro-ecological movement, for cultural or ethical reasons (eg ‘protection of the intrinsic values ​​of the plant’) there is no room for genetic engineering. The authors recognize that a rapprochement between genetic engineering and agroecology is problematic in this specific area. They advocate mutual respect for such personal views.

Because if new genetic engineering cannot be applied at all and as a result there are fewer opportunities to make agriculture more sustainable, this also has an ethical side: why do we as a society deny ourselves technological solutions while they can help to solve enormous challenges (including the nutrition of to cope with the rapidly growing world population (coping with the consequences of climate change)?

Read the original post

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped

Video: We can ‘finally’ grow GMOs—Nigerian farmer explains why developing countries need biotech crops

Nigerian farmer Patience Koku discusses the GMO crop trials she is conducting on her farm, and why growers can "rise ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
breastfeeding bed x facebook x

Infographic: We know breastfeeding helps children. Now we know it helps mothers too

When a woman becomes pregnant, her risk of type 2 diabetes increases for the rest of her life, perhaps because ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend