A debate on the Future of Gene Editing: CRISPR Science, Society and Policy
The objective of the conference was to foster discussions about the future of CRISPR and related gene-editing technologies across a variety of applications in agriculture, health, conservation and more. Researchers, industrial representatives, consumer organizations, organic farmers, traditional farmers, patients’ organizations, policy makers, EC representatives, environmental associations and students, took part in the conference.
The conference consisted of a mix of panel discussions, round tables (more than 30) on topics brought in by the audience and short lightning presentations on CRISPR applications. Students and farmers organised side-events to discuss their perspectives. Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis, gave his view about the new gene-editing techniques emphasizing the importance of the dialogue on this matter in Europe. An inspiring talk was given by geneticists, writer and BBC broadcaster Dr. Adam Rutherford who made a comparison about the genetic evolution and the evolution of hip-hop music.
It was interesting to see that many of the topics that were discussed at CRISPRcon are addressed by CHIC such as the importance of hearing diverse voices, regulation of process or product, traits that are beneficial for consumers, large scale (staple crop farming) versus small scale local farming, access to CRISPR technology (IP and patents), safety assessment, regulation and who decides.
Involvement of CHIC
Several CHIC partners contributed to the meeting. Katarina Cankar presented the CHIC project in her lightning presentation on “Breeding Healthier Crops: Dietary fibers and medicinal terpenes from chicory roots”. Other CHIC partners paticipated in round table discussions on “CRISPR Education and Outreach”, “Indigenous Perspectives on CRISPR technology”, “If we edit it, will you eat it?”, “Transparency approaches” and “Lets’s avoid a trench war on CRISPR food”.
Through these discussions, we gained new insights and established many contacts with divers stakeholders and the new links to research projects around the world that align well with CHIC.
About CHIC Project
CHIC is the Chicory Innovation Consortium. Its objective is to implement New Plant Breeding Techniques (NPBTs) in chicory in order to establish it as a multipurpose crop for the production of health-related products with clear benefits for consumers and to develop co-innovation pathways with stakeholders for game-changing technologies, such as NPBTs. CHIC will develop four different NPBTs. They will be used to steer bioprocesses in chicory and mobilize its under-explored potential to produce immunomodulatory prebiotics and medicinal terpenes. The conceptually different NPBTs will be assessed with respect to technological potential, risks, regulatory framework, and their socio-economic impacts. This will be done in close consultation with a Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) composed of relevant stakeholders in industry and society. For more information, visit our website at chicproject.eu/