Broad alliance for modern breeding methods
The signal effect could not be greater. The label organization IP-Suisse, the fruit, vegetable and potato producers, the agricultural cooperative Fenaco, the large retailers Coop and Migros and the consumer forum have recently joined forces under the name "Varieties for tomorrow". According to its president, the aim of the association is to give new breeding methods such as genome editing a chance in Switzerland.
Wednesday, November 24, 2021
The breadth of sponsorship is remarkable for Switzerland. The association covers the entire food chain, from growers through processing and retail to the consumer. This is another stone falling from the wall that opponents of genetic engineering have built in Switzerland. A survey by gfs.Bern in the summer already showed that Swiss consumers are more open to the new breeding methods than opponents like to point out.
In terms of content, the association will limit itself to those breeding processes in which no foreign genetic material is inserted into an organism. Crossings of wild and cultivated apples with the goal of a fire blight-resistant variety would be conceivable for the association, but plants protected from insect damage with Bt toxin would be rejected, as the "Bauernzeitung" writes.
Also Scientific Commission of the Council of States for Liberalization
It shouldn't be a coincidence that "varieties for tomorrow" are taking shape right now. The extension of the genetic engineering moratorium is being discussed in Parliament these days. According to the Federal Council's proposal, the new breeding methods should be interpreted into the moratorium. Apparently, this approach is seen as a mistake. Just like, for example, the Commission for Science, Education and Culture of the Council of States, which advocates a continuation of the moratorium, but would like to have its own approval practice for genome edited plants in the future. There, too, people seem to have come to the conclusion that modern breeding methods deserve a chance.
In view of the challenges that local agriculture is also facing, robust and high-performance varieties will be needed in the future. The climatic changes of the last few years have shown the need for action “very clearly”, one also argues from “Care for Tomorrow”. It is to be hoped that politicians will also recognize the signs of the times and give the new breeding methods in Switzerland a chance. Making proven and popular varieties more climate-resilient without having to get used to new tastes should also be in the interests of consumers.
The EU Commission has decided to endorse the assessment of the European Food Safety Authority, which found no critical problem areas regarding the effects of glyphosate on the environment and human and animal health. The EU Commission's science-based decision to extend the authorisation for a further 10 years is also a rejection of the scare campaigns by Greenpeace and Co.
More and more invasive pests are spreading in Switzerland. The most recent example is the Asian hornet, which poses a major threat to the native honey bee. But other invasive species also threaten agriculture and biodiversity. Control measures are many and varied. But pesticides (plant protection products and biocides) remain an important tool in the fight against the pests.
Greenpeace has been fighting bitterly against green genetic engineering for decades. SWR Wissen investigated why the environmental campaign organisation has become so entrenched in the issue and detached itself from scientific evidence. In the case of "Golden Rice", the consequences are particularly glaring. But alarmism also threatens to block important innovations in new breeding methods.