Welcome to NRP 59
Using genetics to modify plants offers perspectives far beyond those of normal cross-breeding. This is why these plants have been authorized for use in many countries. But genetically modified (GM) plants are also controversial, in particular in Switzerland.
In 2005, Swiss voters accepted a five-year moratorium on the commercial use of GM plants, which lasted until 2010 and has been prolonged by the Federal Council until 2013.
Until then, it is up to researchers to find out more about the benefits and risks of these plants. Even though huge progress has been made from a scientific standpoint, there are plenty of unanswered questions.
For example, Switzerland with its small-size structured agriculture needs to consider the highly relevant issue of how well GM and traditional crops can coexist. Other points that need to be clarified are whether GM plants bring any economic benefit, can be eco-friendly or are acceptable to society. Finally, it remains to be seen if consumers have anything to gain.
To answer these questions, the Federal Council requested that the Swiss National Science Foundation implement the National Research Programme NRP 59 “Benefits and Risks of the Deliberate Release of Genetically Modified Plants”.
The programme is neither in favour of nor against the use of GM plants. It contributes answers to the questions politicians and society have raised about this new technology.