Knowledge for better food systems

The boundaries of plant breeding

This report from UK group Beyond GM (directed by FCRN member Pat Thomas) presents the results of a world café held in September 2019. The world café brought together people representing a wide variety of practices, beliefs and views on the subject of genome editing in plant breeding, and the conversation covered values, worldviews, ethics, regulation, citizen engagement and more.

Findings of the report include:

  • While the co-existence of different farming systems such as agroecology and those using genetically modified organisms was a major talking point and the concept of co-existence was welcomed in principle, there is little clarity on what that might look like in practice.
  • Areas of (sometimes unexpected) agreement included:
  • Supporters of genome editing generally saw some value in organic plant breeding systems
  • Supporters of organic farming saw the value of genomic tools in the context of laboratory-based research
  • There was a general willingness to accept that public perceptions of genome editing are not necessarily purely “emotional”, and may be shaped by a complex range of relevant factors and value judgements 

Read more here and download the full report, The Boundaries of Plant Breeding, here (PDF link). See also the Foodsource building block What is sustainable intensification?

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