Press release

Workshop ‘gene editing’

Published on
November 18, 2016

On October 14 this year, the initiative group sustainable breeding (Initiatiefgroep Duurzame Fokkerij) organised a stakeholder workshop about ‘gene editing’. The aim of this workshop was to discuss with different stakeholders about the societal impact and communication around gene editing.

In this Dutch movie gene editing is explained.

Structure of the workshop

During the meeting several representatives of the animal breeding industry, ethicists, and researchers were present. The first part of the workshop consisted of invited presentations from people working within Wageningen University and Research (WUR). From Microbiology a detailed overview of the technique used for gene editing was given. Especially the technology CRISPR-CAS, currently used for gene editing, was explained. A researcher of the Animal Breeding and Genomics Centre showed the possibilities of using gene editing for animal breeding. He emphasized that gene editing can give solutions for welfare related traits like hornless cows and health related traits like African swine fever in pigs. Finally, the public relations of Wageningen University gave some insight in the role of communication.

Application possibilities technique

In the second part of the workshop, the participants were divided in small groups to discuss ‘how to communicate’ and ‘the societal debate’ concerning a topic like gene editing. It came forward that when communicating it is important to keep in mind the ultimate goal. This is not so much the explanation of the technique, but more the application possibilities in which this technique can be used.

Discussion initiative group sustainable breeding

In the coming months, the initiative group sustainable breeding will discuss with representatives of the animal production chain about the ethical aspects of gene editing. Furthermore, they will discuss the role of animal breeding to improve the sustainability of livestock production.