Agriculture

The application of genetic engineering to plant breeding (so-called “green genetic engineering”) has been the subject of controversial debate for many years. Which benefits and risks would be linked to the cultivation of genetically modified crops in Switzerland? How should research and cultivation be regulated? Which ethical questions have to be considered? The Forum for Genetic Research promotes fact-based dialogue based on science.

Versuchsfeld
Versuchsfeld (Image: B. Senger, Universität Zürich)
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Versuchsfeld
Versuchsfeld (Image: B. Senger, Universität Zürich)

Current projects

For several years, the Forum for Genetic Research has been intensively engaged with the topic of genetic and molecular methods for plant breeding and the benefits and risks of genetically modified crops for Swiss agriculture. Below you will find an overview of our projects in this field.

Factsheet «New approaches for protecting potatoes against late blight»
  • 2018

New approaches for protecting potatoes against late blight

Late blight continues to result in major losses and a considerable use of pesticides in potato farming. Research is under pressure to improve existing control strategies and develop new solutions. A combination of these approach- es could enable potato farming in Switzerland to generate greater yields and become more ecological.
Den gesunden Kartoffelpflanzen (links) wurden mit Cisgenese mehrere Resistenzgene gegen die Kraut- und Knollenfäule aus Wildkartoffeln übertragen. Dadurch sind sie im Gegensatz zu den unveränderten Pflanzen (rechts) dauerhaft immun gegen diese Pflanzenkrankheit.
  • 30.11.2016

Kraut- und Knollenfäule im Kartoffelbau – Neue Lösungen für ein altes Problem

Um die Kartoffelkrankheit Kraut- und Knollenfäule umweltschonend und kostengünstig zu bekämpfen, sind neue Ansätze gefragt. Welche Lösungen kann die Forschung bieten und wie lassen sich diese zu einer nachhaltigen Strategie kombinieren?
Factsheet «New plant breeding techniques for Swiss agriculture – significant potential, uncertain future»
  • 2016

Factsheet «New plant breeding techniques for Swiss agriculture – significant potential, uncertain future»

The genetic makeup of plants can be modified precisely by means of new breeding techniques. Typically, these changes could also occur naturally and, in the process, no genetic material that is unrelated to the species remains in the plant. The techniques significantly broaden the possibilities for plant breeding, thereby potentially helping to make Swiss agriculture more environmentally friendly, economically viable and ultimately more sustainable.1 As some varieties developed by using the new breeding techniques already exist and new ones are expected to follow shortly, it is imperative to determine whether or not plants engineered by means of these new techniques are subject to the Gene Technology Act. From a natural scientific point of view, there is no reason for a strict regulation of plants bred in this fashion.

In progress

In Septembre 2017, the Academy of Sciences (SCNAT) has launched the Evidence Review Group on "Risks and benefits of agro-gene-technology in the Swiss context". The Forum for Genetic Research is participating in this project.


Abgeschlossene Arbeiten

Eine Übersicht über frühere Publikationen und vergangene Veranstaltungen im Themenbereich Grüne Gentechnik.

Events

New plant breeding techniques - potential and challenges (in German)
January 27th 2015, UniS, Bern
In collaboration with the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEV) and the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG)

Green genetic engineering for sustainable agriculture (in German)
March 27th 2013, Hotel Ador, Bern
In collaboration with the "Platform Biology" and supported by the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences.

Publications

Factsheet «New approaches for protecting potatoes against late blight»
  • 2018

New approaches for protecting potatoes against late blight

Late blight continues to result in major losses and a considerable use of pesticides in potato farming. Research is under pressure to improve existing control strategies and develop new solutions. A combination of these approach- es could enable potato farming in Switzerland to generate greater yields and become more ecological.
Factsheet «New plant breeding techniques for Swiss agriculture – significant potential, uncertain future»
  • 2016

Factsheet «New plant breeding techniques for Swiss agriculture – significant potential, uncertain future»

The genetic makeup of plants can be modified precisely by means of new breeding techniques. Typically, these changes could also occur naturally and, in the process, no genetic material that is unrelated to the species remains in the plant. The techniques significantly broaden the possibilities for plant breeding, thereby potentially helping to make Swiss agriculture more environmentally friendly, economically viable and ultimately more sustainable.1 As some varieties developed by using the new breeding techniques already exist and new ones are expected to follow shortly, it is imperative to determine whether or not plants engineered by means of these new techniques are subject to the Gene Technology Act. From a natural scientific point of view, there is no reason for a strict regulation of plants bred in this fashion.
Factsheet: Genetically modified crops and their importance for Swiss agriculture (2013)
  • 2013

Genetically modified crops and their importance for Swiss agriculture

Swiss agriculture needs to increase production, while maintaining the same quality and at the same time reducing environmental impact. New agricultural methods and technologies are important for the attainment of these agricultural policy targets. The development and cultivation of genetically modified crops can contribute towards achieving these goals. The utilisation of such plants in research and food production is currently hampered by legal constraints.
Report: Genetically modified crops and their importance for Swiss agriculture
  • 2013

Gentechnisch veränderte Nutzpflanzen und ihre Bedeutung für eine nachhaltige Landwirtschaft in der Schweiz

Gewisse gentechnisch veränderte Pflanzen (GV-Pflanzen) könnten für eine ertragreiche und umwelt- schonende Schweizer Landwirtschaft einen Beitrag leisten. Das zeigen dieAkademien derWissenschaften Schweiz im vorliegenden Bericht. Er schliesst an ein Forschungsprogramm des Nationalfonds (NFP 59) an, welches belegt, dass der Anbau von GV-Pflanzen mit keinen Umweltrisiken verbunden ist, die nicht auch für konventionell gezüchtete Pflanzen bestehen.
Medikamente aus Gentech-Pflanzen (2007, Forum Genforschung)
  • 2007

Medikamente aus Gentech-Pflanzen

In den Forschungslaboratorien entsteht eine neue Generation von gentechnisch veränderten Pflanzen: Pharmapflanzen, die in der Lage sind, Arzneimittel herzustellen. Was bringen Pharmapflanzen? Welches sind ihre Vorteile, und wie steht es mit ihrer Sicherheit?