Plants for the future - research and visions for tomorrow's agriculture

B1- Sunday 13:30 - 15:00


The EU’s 7th 5-year frame work programme on research will be discussed and decided by the European Parliament and Council between January and April 2006. The Commission has earmarked 2.5 billion € from 2007-2013 for “Agriculture, biotechnology and food”. The lion’s share of these funds, complemented by national research programmes, is intended to be spent in the area of genetic engineering and genomics as designed by an industry-science technology platform called "Plants for the Future." This includes all major transnational agro-biotech companies and key GM research institutions.

This workshop will discuss practical regional research and development needs and programmes. It aims to develop a proposal for a dedicated "specific support action" on high quality, low input and organic agricultural methods, breeding programmes and basic research. This would include a joint technology platform for partners of scientific institutions, business (including SMEs and farmers) and environmental and consumers’ organisations. Such a platform could be especially designed to accommodate regional structures of  knowledge and science.


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Key participants and speakers:

Claudia Neubauer (Fondation Sciences Citoyennes, France)
Food and agriculture research in Framework Programme 7

Florianne Koechlin (Blueridge-Institute, Switzerland)
Plants are sensitive, they communicate, learn, remember… 
Future Model Switzerland – Agriculture Without Genetic Engineering ?




Background Documents

Claire Hope Cummings (Jan./February 2005)
A highly readable article about the political history of genetic engineering and the reasons for its lack of regulation in the US; with details on the development of the 'gene gun' and the concept of 'hit and miss' on which all GMOs are based, strategic contamination, the controversy around Quist &Chapella's findings on GM maize contamination in Mexico, and on why there are patents on GMOs.

Charles M. Benbrook (October 2004)
Genetically Engineered Crops and Pesticide Use in the United States: The First Nine Years
A comprehensive accounting of the impacts of herbicide tolerant and Bt crops on total pesticide use in the US demonstrates that in the first three years of commercial use the pesticide use was indeed reduced, but since 1999 it has not been anymore. In total, GM maize, soybeans and cotton have led to a 55 million kg increase in pesticide use since 1996. BioTech InfoNet, Technical Paper No. 5, 53 p.

Tappeser & Hoffmann (2004)
Das überholte Paradigma der Gentechnik. Zum zentralen Dogma der Molekularbiologie fünfzig Jahre nach der Entdeckung der DNA-Struktur
This overview describes how the old mechanistic paradigm of molecular biology is outdated, and analyses the impacts that the new knowledge about genetics developed in the Human Genome Project have on agricultural genetic engineering. (German only, 5 pages)

Marcello Buiatti (2004)
Functional dynamics of living systems and genetic engineering
This 20-page study starts with a discussion of some of the relevant changes in our basic knowledge of the structure and dynamics of living systems in the last twenty years, and then discusses problems arising from the fact that today's GMOs are based on an unexpected, persistent prevalence of an old fashioned modern vision of life.

Öko-Insititut (February 2004)
Transgene dürre- und salztolerante Pflanzen
This study describes research activities on salt and drought resistant plants. It also looks into the question of why such research is undertaken, whether it can have positive effects on world hunger issues, and what alternative options exist. (German only, 15 pages)

Florianne Koechlin (2004)
Modern Concepts in Biology Regarding the Essence of Plants
A short summary about scientific research about plants' ability to communicate, learn and plan. Based on a study of the Swiss Ethics Committee in 2004.

Florianne Koechlin (2005)
Basics of GM-Technology
A short introduction prepared for the GMO-free regions conference 2005.

Barry Commoner (February 2002)
Unraveling the DNA Myth.The spurious foundation of genetic engineering
A essay about the history of DNA and genetic engineering; pointing out that the biotechnology industry is based on science that is forty years old and conveniently devoid of more recent results, which show that there are strong reasons to fear the potential consequences of transferring a DNA gene between species.

Reik et al. (August 2001)
Epigenetic Reprogramming in Mammalian Development
Scientific article about epigenetic reprogramming in germ cells due to changes in the mythelation patterns.