We’ve scanned the web to bring together a library of interesting, thought-provoking articles, blogs, reports and academic papers that explore the issue of genetic engineering in food and farming from broader and deeper perspectives. Browse for inspiration or search by theme.

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Remote Control and Peasant Intelligence – On Automating Decisions, Suppressing Knowledges and Transforming Ways of Knowing

Publication date: 14/11/2023

Digital technologies are often touted as a silver bullet to respond to the interconnected crises of food, climate and biodiversity. Although they are presented by their promoters in governments and corporations as a necessary tool for innovation and for making food systems more efficient and sustainable, the reality is much more complex.

This report examines the implications of digital technologies taking hold in European agriculture. It focuses particularly on frictions between new digital technologies and peasant autonomy, agroecology and food sovereignty.

Technologies are not mute objects. Their development, distribution and use are inextricably linked to economic and political interests, cultural meanings, different types of knowledge as well as social and ecological relationships. In a context where money, technological know-how and power are highly concentrated in the hands of a few large companies and countries, the digitalization of food and agriculture is set to reinforce inequalities and discrimination.

Resource type: article: Web Page

Measuring agroecology: Introducing a methodological framework and a community of practice approach

Publication date: 03/11/2023

. In this article, we report on a process of collaboratively developing a methodological framework, using the High Level Panel of Experts of the Committee on World Food Security 13 principles of agroecology as foundation. This framework overcomes some limitations of previous methodologies for evaluating degrees of agroecological integration (including those using Gliessman’s 5 levels of food system change) and facilitates a robust qualitative assessment of projects, programs, and project portfolios with respect to their “agroecologicalness.” The framework conceives of agroecology as paradigm-shifting rather than as incremental improvements to existing food systems. It enables global comparability as well as local contextualization of each principle. While the need for this framework arose from the desire to monitor—and increase—financial support for an urgently needed transformation toward agroecology, the framework can equally contribute to the design of projects and programs, which aim to radically transform food and farming systems. It also has value as an educational tool, in specifying through statements of value and concrete examples, what agroecological work aims at.

Resource type: article: Web Page

Genetic modification can improve crop yields — but stop overselling it

Publication date: 20/09/2023
Over the past two decades, many journals have published papers describing how modifying one or a few genes can result in substantial increases in crop yields. The reported increases range from 10% to 68%, and the crops analysed include rice, maize (corn), tobacco and soya bean.
These studies have contributed important insights in molecular biology and gene discovery. But many are the results of tests conducted in greenhouses or in small-scale field trials — the latter typically involving plants grown in small plots. Few, if any, have used the experimental designs needed to evaluate crop performance in real-world environments. And hardly any findings have translated into yield increases on actual farms.
Especially in the context of climate change and a growing human population, the growth of misleading claims around yields has become a cause of concern to us.
Resource type: article: Web Page

The EU legislative framework for a sustainable food system: How can it effectively deliver for the environment and people?

Publication date: 08/09/2023

In its Farm to Fork Strategy, the European Commission announced that it will present a legislative framework for a sustainable food system, an initiative expected for the third quarter of 2023.

The vision reflected in the law proposal will have a critical impact on the EU’s capacity to build its resilience against the worsening climate and biodiversity crises while guaranteeing long-term accessibility to healthy food.

The briefing presents solutions in the form of actionable tools that can best ensure the swift implementation of a sustainable EU food system on the ground. The European Commission must go ahead with its proposal and publish it in September 2023; there is no better time.

Resource type: article: Web Page

Beyond the Genome: Genetically Modified Crops in Africa and the Implications for Genome Editing

Publication date: 01/01/2023

This article makes two interventions. First, it identifies the discursive continuity linking genome editing and the earlier technology of genetic modification. Second, it offers a suite of recommendations regarding how lessons learned from GM crops might be integrated into future breeding programmes focused on genome editing. Ultimately, the authors argue that donors, policymakers and scientists should move beyond the genome towards systems-level thinking by prioritizing the co-development of technologies with farmers; using plant material that is unencumbered by intellectual property restrictions and therefore accessible to resource-poor farmers; and acknowledging that seeds are components of complex and dynamic agroecological production systems. If these lessons are not heeded, genome-editing projects are in danger of repeating mistakes of the past

Resource type: article: Web Page