The debate in Europe over the application of new genetic engineering techniques, and specifically gene editing techniques such as CRISPR, is intensifying. The research establishment, several Member States and parts of the EU Commission calling for changes in the EU’s GMO regulations which will exempt these techniques.
These proposed changes are gaining increasing support in the media, particularly around the role that gene editing might play in developing a more sustainable food and farming system. Included in these discussion is the question of whether they can and should be accepted in organic agriculture.
Nordic countries are at the forefront of the conceptual and practical development of sustainability and are, notably, leaders in the uptake of organic food and farming. But they have also been early adopters of plant gene technologies.
In Norway and Denmark – as in much of Europe – there are now calls from the biotechnology industry and researchers for the products of new gene editing techniques such as CRISPR, to be exempt from regulation in order to help farming meet sustainability goals.
At the same time, a growing number of people feel that doing so brings inevitable questions about food safety and transparency – as well as potential risks to the organic market.
There is no doubt that it has to be addressed and it should be addressed; not behind closed doors but in open fora where all stakeholders can have an opportunity to discuss it.
Following a successful panel session on the same theme at Natural and Organic Products Europe 2019 in London, A Bigger Conversation takes the question of ‘organic GMOs’ to the Nordic Organic Food Fair – only organic food and drink trade show hosted in the Nordic region.
This panel session brings together experts on both sides of the debate. Come, listen and cast your ‘vote’ at the end.
Dr Stefan Jansson – Professor of Plant Physiology and Head of Department, Umeå University, Sweden.
Dr Odd-Gunnar Wikmark – Scientist/Program Coordinator, GenØk Centre for Biosafety, Norway
Lawrence Woodward – Director Beyond GM, and co-founder and former director the Organic Research Centre, UK