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Cisgenic Disease Resistant Apples: A Product with Benefits for the Environment, Producer and Consumer

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In 2005, Swiss voters accepted a moratorium which prohibited any commercial plantation of GM-crops for 5 years. Parliament recently prolonged this moratorium until 2013. One of the arguments was that crops in which genetic modified cultivars/varieties are available (maize, rape and to a much lesser extent soybean) contained traits of no interest to Swiss agriculture. Herbicide (glyphosate or similar) resistance is of little value in a small scale agriculture and valuable (also biological) insect control measures are available against insects, rendering GM-resistance through Bt unnecessary. The moratorium postponed any decision on planting GM crops commercially at least until crops with sufficient benefits to make them publically acceptable are available. Currently in the opinion of the public, often driven by pressure groups, GM-technology is associated and confused with herbicide resistance and to a lesser extent Bt products. This means that it is easily associated with negative headlines such as "profit for a few; environmental costs for all". The popular belief is that GM-technology has no benefits for the environment or consumer, it results in large area monocultures with an absence of crop rotation and it brings profits to big agro businesses. The Swiss government being well aware that the technology offers more than just herbicide resistant crops, initiated a research programme in 2006 on "benefits and risk of the deliberate release of genetically modified plants".
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2011

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