Biotech Updates

The Ethics Council of Denmark: It's Time for New Debate on GM Plants

May 2, 2019

The Danish Council of Ethics (Det Etiske Råd) has released an opinion, GMO and Ethics in A New Era (GMO og etik i en ny tid), calling for a new debate on genetically modified (GM) plants. According to the Council's opinion, the modification in plant, and not the technique used that must be the basis for approval, and that all plants with new properties should be screened regardless of whether they were developed using gene technology or traditional breeding.

The Council of Ethics, which provides advice on ethical issues and creates debates on new bio and gene technologies to their parliament, authorities and the public, much has changed since GMOs were first planted in the 1990s. "Therefore, there is a need for a new position today," said the opinion.

A majority 15 out of 16 members of the Council of Ethics recommend that the rules for the approval of GMOs be changed. The members' renewed discussion on GM plants considers the following: new and improved techniques such as CRISPR which is an easier, faster and more precise tool; more than 20 years of research showing no scientific evidence that GMOs are more risky than conventional ones; and the contribution of universities and smaller seed breeders who are developing GMOs that could help in addressing serious problems, including climate challenge and biodiversity.

For more details, a description of the opinion is available (in Danish) in The Council of Ethics' website.