Swiss National Science Foundation demonstrated overwhelming scientific support this week for deliberate release of plants from modern biotechnology.
THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY
USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT
GAIN Report Number: SZ0001
Bolstering Scientific Evidence--Genetically Modified Plants
Biotechnology - GE Plants and Animals
Swiss National Science Foundation demonstrated overwhelming scientific support this week for
deliberate release of plants from modern biotechnology. The report, “Benefits and Risks of the
Deliberate Release of Genetically Modified Plants” (NRP 59), was commissioned by the Swiss Federal
Council. This report contributes information for next-step decisions whether to continue the current
Swiss moratorium on plant biotechnology or not.
On August 28, the Swiss National Science Foundation published National Research Program Report 59,
“Benefits and Risks of the Deliberate Release of Genetically Modified Plants” (NRP 59), commissioned
by the Swiss Federal Council. The NRP 59 reports the results of nearly seven years of research,
outreach and review of international scientific studies to assess the public health, environmental and
economic impact, and social consequences of the application of gene technology to modify plants. A
link to this report, its background, research results, and implementation considerations can be viewed in
the web link: www.nrp59.ch/e_index.cfm.
The NRP 59 was launched by the Swiss Federal Council shortly after the implementation of a five-year
moratorium which began in November 2005 to prohibit the commercial cultivation of GMO plants or
use of GMO animals for the production of food and agricultural products. The moratorium was due to
expire on November 27, 2010, but was subsequently extended by referendum for an additional three-
year period in order to await the results of NRP 59.
The aim of NRP 59 is to provide the scientific basis to narrow the knowledge gaps for a subsequent
political discussion and to support decision making towards a final rule on how to proceed with the use
of GMO plants in Swiss agriculture. This study represents a significant step forward in addressing a
general lack of awareness regarding genetically modified agriculture but intense public resistance
remains, as evidenced by a recent motion submitted to the Federal Council calling for a temporary
continuation of the moratorium beyond November 2013.
Analogous to the review of NRP 59, the Federal Council has opened consultation proceedings for any
subsequent amendment of the Gene Technology Act.