Recommended Reading: Plant & Animal Breeding

Highlighting interesting articles and papers that take a deeper look into current issues.

Is it only the regulatory status? Broadening the debate on cisgenic plants

Publication date: 26/06/2017

In current debates on emerging technologies for plant breeding in Europe, much attention has been given to the regulatory status of these techniques and their public acceptance. At present, both genetically modified plants with cisgenic approaches—using genes from crossable species—as well as transgenic approaches—using genes from different species—fall under GMO regulation in the EU and both are mandatorily labelled as GMOs. Researchers involved in the early development of cisgenic GM plants convey the message that the potential use and acceptance of cisgenic approaches will be seriously hindered if GMO regulations are not adjusted.

Although the similar treatment and labelling of transgenic and cisgenic plants may be a legitimate concern for the marketability of a cisgenic GM plant, there are concerns around their commercialization that reach beyond the current focus on (de)regulation. In this paper, we will use the development of the cisgenic GM potato that aims to overcome ‘late blight’—the most devastating potato disease worldwide—as a case to argue that it is important to recognize, reflect and respond to broader concerns than the dominant focus on the regulatory ‘burden’ and consumer acceptance. Based on insights we gained from discussing this case with diverse stakeholders within the agricultural sector and potato production in Norway during a series of workshops, we elaborate on additional issues such as the (technical) solution offered; different understandings of the late blight problem; the durability of the potato plant resistance; and patenting and ownership.

Hence, this paper contributes to empirical knowledge on stakeholder perspectives on emerging plant breeding technologies, underscoring the importance to broaden the scope of the debate on the opportunities and challenges of agricultural biotechnologies, such as cisgenic GM plants. The paper offers policy-relevant input to ongoing efforts to broaden the scope of risk assessments of agricultural biotechnologies. We aim to contribute to the recognition of the complex socio-ecological, legal and political dimensions in which these technological developments are entangled as a means to acknowledge, discuss and respond to these concerns and thereby contribute to more comprehensive and responsible developments within agricultural biotechnology.

Resource type: Adobe Acrobat (.pdf)

New plant breeding techniques – ethical considerations

Publication date: 01/03/2016

Even before the advent of modern genetic engineering, to many people it was important whether a plant was created “naturally” (usually under-stood as “using conventional cross-breeding techniques”) or “artificially” (usually understood as “genetically engineered or altered in a non-natural way”).

Put simplistically, “natural” is associated with “better” and “artificial” with “worse”, or vice versa, depending on the viewpoint. Regardless of the connotations given to “natural” and “artificial”, these notions involve moral evaluations. Although often implicit only, such evaluations have an influence on the risk assessment of NPBTs.

This report critically considers this differentiation and its implicit effect on the discussion of risk as well as other urgent issues around NPBTs.

Resource type: Adobe Acrobat (.pdf)

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