Swiss Federal Research Station for Agroecology and Agriculture, Zurich-Reckenholz

Future emphasis of risk assessments of transgenic crops in Switzerland

Genetic engineering and its consequences are topics that concern both politics and the public. The controversies regarding the possible effects due to the use of genetic engineering in agriculture for food and feed production are viewed differently. Thus, there is still a gap in knowledge regarding the ecological risks of genetically modified organisms. The Swiss Federal Research Station for Agroecology and Agriculture (FAL) was therefore assigned by the Swiss Agency for the Environment, Forests and Landscape (SAEFL) to determine needs in research on potential impacts of genetically modified (GM) crops on the environment. The study focussed on research questions related to potential ecological risks, which could arise if GM crops were to be released in Switzerland. Furthermore the goals of the study were to define the major research gaps in Switzerland and to prioritize these gaps. The study has shown that, despite the research performed up to date, the following two topics are of major concern: 1st interspecific gene flow from crops into related wild relatives (vertical gene flow) and 2nd effects on non-target organisms.

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