GREEN GENE TECHNOLOGY OR ECOLOGICAL FARMING?
A talk in favour of a pragmatic research by
PD Dr. Christof Sautter ETHZ
9th January 2009
|Green Gene Technology or Ecological Farming?
A talk in favour of pragmatic research.
Dr. Christof Sautter
Sustainable agriculture is an important goal of our Western societies and well based on biology and ethical considerations. Organic farming is considered an interesting approach towards this goal, however, it excludes genetically engineered organisms (GEO), although they have potential to support sustainable agriculture.
It is publicly hardly known that the fear of GEO, which is promoted by organic farming and some non-governmental organisations, lacks scientific evidence. The public debate is mainly fed by risk focused articles, because they get higher attendance, causing an unbalanced opinion in the public. In consequence, gene technology is still a controversial political issue in Europe and particularly also in Switzerland.
The Swiss federal council is going to ask for a prolongation of the currently valid moratorium for agronomic application of GEO. Although this moratorium excludes research, it makes research in the field of genetically modified plants more and more difficult, resulting in overregulation and even damage of safe and legal field tests. I will discuss the contribution of freedom of research to the methodical diversity within the tough legal limits at the example of my own experience.
Welcome to the
Gruissem laboratory website at the
Institute of Plant Sciences
in Zurich. We are members of the ETH Zurich
Department of Biology
Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center
Life Science Zurich Graduate School
Researchers in our
laboratory tackle questions in basic and applied areas of plant science. One
central question relates to the regulation of plant development through
integration of cell cycle control and
We seek to unravel this process by dissecting the functions of the
Retinoblastoma-related (RBR) protein and associated
chromatin remodeling complexes
such as Polycomb Group (PcG) and chromatin assembly factor (CAF1), using
Arabidopsis as a model organism.
approaches we also explore the dynamics of gene regulation at different
levels. To facilitate gene network discovery we are developing novel
bioinformatics tools such as
which allows researchers to mine large transcriptome databases. Similarly,
we are using proteomics to unravel the
and to detect dynamic protein changes during development. Computational
tools and collaborations with colleagues from
allow us to define the complexity of molecular interactions. We have chosen
as an example to understand how pathway gene regulation together with
spatial and temporal control of enzyme activities and metabolite allocation
are integrated into the complex metabolic network.
Advances in basic
research often provide the principles for improving plant function and
performance. We recognize the importance of applying our biotechnology
skills to provide solutions in major staple crops.
Fugal diseases in wheat
is a major problem worldwide that currently can be controlled only by
the staple crop of 600 Million people in developing countries, suffers from
severe virus attacks.
and rice, which together feed more than half of the human population, lack
high quality proteins and mineral nutrients. Using gene technology tools we
are developing improved varieties that contribute to food security and
In the Gruissem
laboratory, our Senior Research Associates
Dr. Sacha Baginsky
Dr. Lars Hennig
PD Dr. Christof Sautter
Dr. Herve Vanderschuren
Dr. Eva Vranova
Dr. Peng Zhang
Dr. Philip Zimmermann
lead projects in the above described basic and applied research areas. We
work with an excellent and dedicated team of undergraduate and graduate
students, postdoctoral fellows, as well as technical and administrative
Diploma and Masters
thesis projects available