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New Horizons in Swiss Plant Biotechnology. From the Laboratory to the Field

Proceedings of a Symposium organized at the ETH Zürich on June 12, 1996 on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the Department of Agronomy and Food Sciences.

Organizers: Prof. A.Amrhein, Prof.K.Apel, Prof.I.Potrykus
Institute of Plant Sciences, ETH Zürich.

Proceedings Editor: Prof. I. Potrykus

1996 marks the 125th anniversary of the Department of Agronomy and Food Sciences of the ETH Zürich On this occasion the Institute of Plant Sciences has been organizing four symposia, to inform the public on recent scientific developments in Agriculture and Plant Biology. The Symposium in Plant Biotechnology is concieved as a contribution to the public discussion on chances and risks of transgenic organisms. The series of lectures has been organized in such a way, that information is provided on what experiments are performed in Switzerland with transgenic plants and for which reason, as well as what representative personalities from Federal offices and biosafety institutions think of their risks and benefits.

Of the ten excamples of experiments with transgenic plants given, eight are from university research groups and two from industrial groups. Dr. Philippe Gay and Dr. Paul Tenning, representing Ciba Geigy and Sandoz respectively, present cases on insect resistance in maize and herbicide resistance in sugar beet, which have been developed for their opportunities on commercial success. However, both have the inbuilt potential of considerable ecological benefits, especially if applied with responsibility in integrated pest managment or organic farming schemes. The presentation of Dr. Pia Malnoe from the Federal Research Station at Changin, from PD Dr.Beat Keller from the Federal Research Station in Reckenholz, and from PD Dr.Christof Sautter from the ETH Zürich approach a priori an ecological benefit, the reduction of pesticide application, via the development of Swiss potato and wheat cultivars resistant against fungal pests. From these experiments no commercial return is expected. This is possible, because these projects are financially supported by the Swiss Nationalfonds. The experiments from Dr.Christiane Nawrath, University of Fribourg and from Dr. iegbert Melzer ETH Zürich are yet not too close to the field. However, they illustrate additional research opportunities. biodegradable plastic harvested from plants may not only have ecological benefits but also provide Swiss farmers with a chance for diversification. And a reduction in the time necessary for flowering might, e.g. extend the geographic area, in which some crops can be grown, to the North. The presentations of Dr. Johanna Puonti Kaerlas, Dr. Joachim Wünn and PD Dr. Christoof Sautter, all from ETH Zürich exemplify what important contributions transgenic rice, cassava and wheat plants developed in Switzerland, can play for food security in Least Developed Countries.

Following this description of the opportunities provided by these transgenic plants, there is a disscussion on the risk evaluation of transgenic plants, presented by PD Dr. Othmar Käppeli head of the Agency for Biosafety Research and Assessment of Technology Impacts, Basel. Special emphasis on alergenicity and toxicological risks of food produced from transgenic plants will be given by Stefani Franck, Stuttgart and Dr. Klaus Amman, Botanical Garden of the University of Bern will present the view of a critical plant ecologist. Finally, Dr. Paul Steffen from the Federal Office of Agriculture, Dr. Hans Hosbach from the Federal Office for Environment (BUWAL) will present their views on the release of transgenic plants in, and Paul Egger, head agronomy from the Swiss Development Corporation will discsuss the increasing importance of transgenic plants for future food security in Least Developed Countries.

Ingo Potrykus (ETH Zürich)
If applied with care, gene technology will substantially contribute to sustained food security in Developing countries.
Transgene Pflanzen für Nachhaltigkeit und Ernährungssicherung

Pia Malnoe, Stephanie Hediger, Holger Bohlmann und Klaus Apel.
(Station Fédérale de Recherches Agronomiques Changin/ETH Zürich)
Resistance to fungal and viral diseases in potato
Resistenz gegen Pilz  und Viruskrankheiten der Kartoffel.

Beat Keller, Catherine Feulliet, Monika Messmer, Gabi Schachenmayer, Hans Winzeler and Michael Winzeler.
(Eidgenössische Forschungsanstalt für Agrarökologie und Landbau, Reckenholz).
Molecular breeding for fungal disease resistance in wheat.
Molekulare Resistenzzüchtung in Weizen.

Christof Sautter (ETH Zürich)
Gene technology might help to defeat fungal diseases.
Gentechnik könnte helfen Pilzkrankheiten abzuwehren.

Siegbert Melzer and Thomas Kania. (ETH Zürich)
Molecular analysis of the transition to flowering.
Molekulare Untersuchungen zur Regulation der Blütenbildung.

Philippe Gay, Gilles Gay and Michael Koziel (Ciba Geigy, Basel/ USA)
Bt transgenic maize effectively controls insect pests.
Effiziente Schadinsektenbekämpfung mit Bt transgenem Mais.

Paul Tenning and S. Tuvesson (Sandoz, Basel/Hilleshög, Landskrona)
Transgenic sugar beet tolerant to broad spectrum herbicides.
Transgene Zuckerrüben mit Resistenz gegen Breitspektrum Herbizide.

Christiane Nawrath and Yves Poirier (Université Fribourg/ Lausanne).
Plants as bioreactors for the production of biodegradable plastics.
Pflanzen als Bioreaktoren zur Produktion biologisch abbaubarer Kunststoffe.

Johanna Puonti Kaerlas and Ingo Potrykus (ETH Zürich)
Transgenic cassava contributes to food security in Africa.
Transgene Maniok als Beitrag zur Ernährungssicherung in Afrika.

Joachim Wünn, Peter Burkhardt, Johannes Fütterer, Zhao He, Andreas Klöti and Ingo Potrykus (ETH Zürich)
Transgenic rice and its impact on food security in Asia.
Transgener Reis als Beitrag zur Ernährungssicherung in Asien.

Paul Egger (Direktion für Entwicklung und Zusammenarbeit, Bern)
Biotechnology in Swiss Development Cooperation.
Biotechnologie in der Schweizerischen Entwicklungszusammenarbeit.

Stephanie Franck and Beat Keller (Oberlimpurg/FAL Reckenholz)
The safety of foods derived from transgenic plants: allergenicity and toxicological aspects.
Allergene und toxikologische Aspekte der Sicherheit von Nahrungsmitteln aus transgenen Pflanzen.

Othmar Käppeli (BATS, Basel)
Safety assessment with regard to the release of transgenic plants.
Die Beurteilung der Sicherheit transgener Pflanzen.

Klaus Ammann (Universität Bern)
Field releases of transgenic crop plants, ecological aspects
Ökologische Aspekte der Freisetzung transgener Nutzpflanzen.

Paul Steffen (Bundesamt für Landwirtschaft, Bern)
From the point of view of the Federal Office of Agriculture.
Der Standpunkt des Bundesamtes für Landwirtschaft.

Hans Hosbach (Bundesamt für Umwelt, Wald & Landschaft, Bern).
Coping with the release of genetically modified organims: the approach of the Federal Law on the Protection of the Environment.
Biotechnologie und Umweltschutzgesetz.

© Copyright Agency BATS: Contact Legal Advisor: Advokatur Prudentia-Law Date of publishing: 1996-06-12

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