E-Mail Alert

Add your e-mail address to receive forthcoming issues of this journal:

Journal Browser

Journal Browser

Special Issue "Organic Farming and Gene Manipulation"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Wildlife".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 August 2016)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Gerhart U. Ryffel

Professor Emeritus, Institute of Cell Biology (Cancer Research), Universitätsklinikum Essen, Hufelandstraße 55, 45147 Essen, Germany
Website | E-Mail
Interests: gene regulation, gene manipulation; transgene flow; gene manipulated plants compatible with organic farming (orgenic plants); biocontainment

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Organic farming is believed to be a sustainable agriculture method of food production that is environmental friendly and produces healthy food. Compared to conventional agricultural practices organic farming generates lower yields and, thus, generates higher food costs. Gene manipulation of plants and animals may have the potential to improve the yield gap of organic farming without compromising the advantages of organic farming. Critical parameters include the avoidance of chemical pesticides and the application of genetic techniques that exclude transgene escape.

This Special Issue invites papers that highlight and evaluate the potential of genetic engineering for improvement of organic farming.

Manuscript could address the following, general topics:

-          Economic, ethical, and regulatory perspectives of using gene manipulation in organic farming
-          Criteria to evaluate gene manipulation techniques compatible with organic farming
-          Containment strategies to avoid transgene flow
-          Genetically modified insects to control agricultural infestation without chemicals

Alternatively more specific issues could be discussed, such as:

-          Evaluation of products versus method of production
-          Transgenesis in sterile plants, such as cassava and banana
-          Cisgenesis in apple, potato or other plants

Prof. Dr. Gerhart U. Ryffel
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • sustainable agriculture
  • organic farming
  • gene manipulation in plants and animals
  • genome editing
  • bioconfinement
  • environmental health

Published Papers (11 papers)

View options order results:
result details:
Displaying articles 1-11
Export citation of selected articles as:

Editorial

Jump to: Research, Review, Other

Open AccessEditorial I Have a Dream: Organic Movements Include Gene Manipulation to Improve Sustainable Farming
Sustainability 2017, 9(3), 392; doi:10.3390/su9030392
Received: 1 March 2017 / Revised: 1 March 2017 / Accepted: 3 March 2017 / Published: 7 March 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (192 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Several papers in a Special Issue of Sustainability have recently discussed various aspects to evaluate whether organic farming and gene manipulation are compatible. A special emphasis was given to new plant breeding techniques (NPBTs). These new approaches allow the most predictable genetic alterations
[...] Read more.
Several papers in a Special Issue of Sustainability have recently discussed various aspects to evaluate whether organic farming and gene manipulation are compatible. A special emphasis was given to new plant breeding techniques (NPBTs). These new approaches allow the most predictable genetic alterations of crop plants in ways that the genetically modified plant is identical to a plant generated by conventional breeding. The articles of the Special Issue present the arguments pro and contra the inclusion of the plants generated by NPBTs in organic farming. Organic movements have not yet made a final decision whether some of these techniques should be accepted or banned. In my view these novel genetically manipulated (GM) crops could be used in such a way as to respect the requirements for genetically manipulated organisms (GMOs) formulated by the International Federation of Organic Movements (IFOAM). Reviewing the potential benefits of disease-resistant potatoes and bananas, it seems possible that these crops support organic farming. To this end, I propose specific requirements that the organic movements should proactively formulate as their standards to accept specific GM crops. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Organic Farming and Gene Manipulation)

Research

Jump to: Editorial, Review, Other

Open AccessArticle Mass Releases of Genetically Modified Insects in Area-Wide Pest Control Programs and Their Impact on Organic Farmers
Sustainability 2017, 9(1), 59; doi:10.3390/su9010059
Received: 22 October 2016 / Accepted: 22 December 2016 / Published: 1 January 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1590 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The mass release of irradiated insects to reduce the size of agricultural pest populations of the same species has a more than 50-year record of success. Using these techniques, insect pests can be suppressed without necessarily dispersing chemical insecticides into the environment. Ongoing
[...] Read more.
The mass release of irradiated insects to reduce the size of agricultural pest populations of the same species has a more than 50-year record of success. Using these techniques, insect pests can be suppressed without necessarily dispersing chemical insecticides into the environment. Ongoing release programs include the suppression of medfly at numerous locations around the globe (e.g., California, Chile and Israel) and the pink bollworm eradication program across the southern USA and northern Mexico. These, and other successful area-wide programs, encompass a large number of diverse organic farms without incident. More recently, mass release techniques have been proposed that involve the release of genetically modified insects. Given that the intentional use of genetically modified organisms by farmers will in many jurisdictions preclude organic certification, this prohibits the deliberate use of this technology by organic farmers. However, mass releases of flying insects are not generally conducted by individual farmers but are done on a regional basis, often without the explicit consent of all situated farms (frequently under the auspices of government agencies or growers’ collectives). Consequently, there exists the realistic prospect of organic farms becoming involved in genetically modified insect releases as part of area-wide programs or experiments. Herein, we describe genetically modified insects engineered for mass release and examine their potential impacts on organic farmers, both intended and unintended. This is done both generally and also focusing on a hypothetical organic farm located near an approved experimental release of genetically modified (GM) diamondback moths in New York State (USA). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Organic Farming and Gene Manipulation)
Figures

Figure 1

Review

Jump to: Editorial, Research, Other

Open AccessReview A World without Hunger: Organic or GM Crops?
Sustainability 2017, 9(4), 580; doi:10.3390/su9040580
Received: 2 February 2017 / Revised: 10 March 2017 / Accepted: 5 April 2017 / Published: 11 April 2017
PDF Full-text (934 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
It has been estimated that the world population will increase to 9.2 billion by 2050; supplying the growing population with food will require a significant increase in agricultural production. A number of agricultural and ecological scientists believe that a large-scale shift to organic
[...] Read more.
It has been estimated that the world population will increase to 9.2 billion by 2050; supplying the growing population with food will require a significant increase in agricultural production. A number of agricultural and ecological scientists believe that a large-scale shift to organic farming (OF) would not only increase the world’s food supply, but might be the only way to eradicate hunger sustainably. Nevertheless, OF has recently come under new scrutiny, not just from critics who fear that a large-scale shift in this direction would cause billions to starve but also from farmers and development agencies who question whether such a shift could improve food security. Meanwhile, the use of genetically modified (GM) crops is growing around the world, leading to possible opportunities to combat food insecurity and hunger. However, the development of GM crops has been a matter of considerable interest and worldwide public controversy. So far, no one has comprehensively analyzed whether a widespread shift to OF or GM would be the sole solution for both food security and safety. Using a literature review from databases of peer-reviewed scientific publications, books, and official publications, this study aims to address this issue. Results indicate that OF and GM, to different extents, are able to ensure food security and safety. In developed countries, given that there are relatively few farmers and that their productivity, even without GMOs, is relatively high, OF could be more a viable option. However, OF is significantly less efficient in land-use terms and may lead to more land being used for agriculture due to its lower yield. In developing countries, where many small-scale farmers have low agricultural productivity and limited access to agricultural technologies and information, an approach with both GM and OF might be a more realistic approach to ensure food security and safety. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Organic Farming and Gene Manipulation)
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessReview Modifying Bananas: From Transgenics to Organics?
Sustainability 2017, 9(3), 333; doi:10.3390/su9030333
Received: 2 September 2016 / Revised: 9 February 2017 / Accepted: 20 February 2017 / Published: 24 February 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1936 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Bananas are one of the top ten world food crops. Unlike most other major food crops, bananas are difficult to genetically improve. The challenge is that nearly all banana cultivars and landraces are triploids, with high levels of male and female infertility. There
[...] Read more.
Bananas are one of the top ten world food crops. Unlike most other major food crops, bananas are difficult to genetically improve. The challenge is that nearly all banana cultivars and landraces are triploids, with high levels of male and female infertility. There are a number of international conventional breeding programs and many of these are developing new cultivars. However, it is virtually impossible to backcross bananas, thus excluding the possibility of introgressing new traits into a current cultivar. The alternative strategy is to “modify” the cultivar itself. We have been developing the capacity to modify Cavendish bananas and other cultivars for both disease resistance and enhanced fruit quality. Initially, we were using transgenes; genes that were derived from species outside of the Musa or banana genus. However, we have recently incorporated two banana genes (cisgenes) into Cavendish; one to enhance the level of pro-vitamin A and the other to increase the resistance to Panama disease. Modified Cavendish with these cisgenes have been employed in a field trial. Almost certainly, the next advance will be to edit the Cavendish genome, to generate the desired traits. As these banana cultivars are essentially sterile, transgene flow and the outcrossing of modified genes into wild Musa species. are highly unlikely and virtually impossible in other triploid cultivars. Therefore, genetic changes in bananas may be compatible with organic farming. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Organic Farming and Gene Manipulation)
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessReview Why Organic Farming Should Embrace Co-Existence with Cisgenic Late Blight–Resistant Potato
Sustainability 2017, 9(2), 172; doi:10.3390/su9020172
Received: 20 July 2016 / Revised: 13 January 2017 / Accepted: 18 January 2017 / Published: 25 January 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (207 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The EU regulation on organic farming does not allow the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) which are subject to Directive 2001/18/EC. Mutagenesis using irradiation or chemicals is genetic modification, but the organisms obtained through these techniques are not subject to the provisions
[...] Read more.
The EU regulation on organic farming does not allow the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) which are subject to Directive 2001/18/EC. Mutagenesis using irradiation or chemicals is genetic modification, but the organisms obtained through these techniques are not subject to the provisions of the GMO directive. Such mutants can therefore be used in organic agriculture. Derived from its basic principles, organic farming can only use natural substances to control disease and crops should be resilient, which, in the case of disease resistance, means that durable (horizontal) resistance is preferred to vertical (single gene) resistance. Cisgenesis can achieve such a durable resistance by introducing multiple resistance genes in one step. These multiple-resistant plants only contain natural genes that can also be introduced by breeding. In case cisgenic plants are not subject to the provisions of the GMO legislation, they can even be legally used in organic agriculture. In case they are not exempted from the GMO regulation, the question is: why obstruct a cisgenic potato crop that can hardly be distinguished from a potato crop that is the result of conventional breeding? Among the reasons why organic agriculture does not allow the use of GMOs it is mentioned that genetic engineering is unpredictable, it causes genome disruption and it is unnatural. However, our knowledge of plant genome evolution and breeding has increased dramatically. We now know that breeding is more unpredictable and causes more genome disruption than genetic engineering. Recent field trials have shown the efficacy of cisgenic late blight–resistant potatoes carrying multiple resistance genes. Large-scale growing of such durably resistant potatoes would not only be environmentally beneficial by it would strongly reducing the need for fungicide sprays in conventional potato cultivation and it would also reduce the disease pressure in organic potato cultivation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Organic Farming and Gene Manipulation)
Open AccessReview Concepts and Strategies of Organic Plant Breeding in Light of Novel Breeding Techniques
Sustainability 2017, 9(1), 18; doi:10.3390/su9010018
Received: 10 September 2016 / Revised: 18 December 2016 / Accepted: 21 December 2016 / Published: 23 December 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (254 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this paper, we describe the development of a set of guiding principles for the evaluation of breeding techniques by the organic sector over time. The worldwide standards of organic agriculture (OA) do not allow genetic engineering (GE) or any products derived from
[...] Read more.
In this paper, we describe the development of a set of guiding principles for the evaluation of breeding techniques by the organic sector over time. The worldwide standards of organic agriculture (OA) do not allow genetic engineering (GE) or any products derived from genetic engineering. The standards in OA are an expression of the underlying principles of health, ecology, fairness and care. The derived norms are process and not product oriented. As breeding is considered part of the process in agriculture, GE is not a neutral tool for the organic sector. The incompatibility between OA and GE is analyzed, including the “novel breeding techniques”. Instead, alternative breeding approaches are pursued based on the norms and values of organic agriculture not only on the technical level but also on the social and organizational level by including other value chain players and consumers. The status and future perspectives of the alternative directions for organic breeding are described and discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Organic Farming and Gene Manipulation)
Open AccessReview Should Organic Agriculture Maintain Its Opposition to GM? New Techniques Writing the Same Old Story
Sustainability 2016, 8(11), 1105; doi:10.3390/su8111105
Received: 8 July 2016 / Revised: 21 October 2016 / Accepted: 26 October 2016 / Published: 28 October 2016
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (1189 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Biotechnology is diversifying rapidly through the development and application of new approaches to genome editing and ongoing research into synthetic biology. Proponents of biotechnology are enthusiastic about these new developments and have recently begun calling for environmental movements to abandon their campaigns against
[...] Read more.
Biotechnology is diversifying rapidly through the development and application of new approaches to genome editing and ongoing research into synthetic biology. Proponents of biotechnology are enthusiastic about these new developments and have recently begun calling for environmental movements to abandon their campaigns against Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and for organic agriculture to reconsider its exclusion of Genetic Modification (GM). In this article, we begin by describing the diversity of practices that cluster under both the terms GM and organic and show that although there is a clash of different cultures of agriculture at stake, there is also a spectrum of practices existing between these two poles. Having established the terms of the debate, we then go on to analyse whether the organic movement should reconsider its position on GM in light of new plant breeding techniques (NPBTs), using the criteria highlighted as important by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) in their 2016 draft revised position on GMOs. Through this analysis, we suggest that given the in-context-trajectory of biotechnology development, the continued narrow framing of agricultural problems and the ongoing exclusion of important socio-economic, political and cultural dimensions, the organic movement is justified in maintaining its opposition to GM in the face of NPBTs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Organic Farming and Gene Manipulation)
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessReview Effect of Organic Potato Farming on Human and Environmental Health and Benefits from New Plant Breeding Techniques. Is It Only a Matter of Public Acceptance?
Sustainability 2016, 8(10), 1054; doi:10.3390/su8101054
Received: 26 July 2016 / Revised: 10 October 2016 / Accepted: 13 October 2016 / Published: 20 October 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (909 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Organic farming practices are commonly thought to reduce the environmental impact of agriculture and to preserve the naturalness of the products. Herein, we report the effect of crop management practices on nutritional and toxicological value of potato tubers. Comparative studies are often controversial
[...] Read more.
Organic farming practices are commonly thought to reduce the environmental impact of agriculture and to preserve the naturalness of the products. Herein, we report the effect of crop management practices on nutritional and toxicological value of potato tubers. Comparative studies are often controversial and the results are dependent on genotype and methodological approach. Targeted analysis and “omics” strategies are discussed, pointing at the nutritional aspects and the corresponding biological and molecular processes involved. Organic farming supporters still do not accept the use of genetic modification to produce new varieties suited for organic agriculture and crop improvement by genetic engineering still sparks hot debate among various scientific and social factions whose major concern is the possible existence of unintended effects both on human and world health. In this context, the advent of “new plant breeding techniques” has reignited the discussion on genetic engineering and on the compatibility of the new technologies with an eco-friendly agriculture. Could cisgenic and genome-edited potatoes be new good options for organic agriculture? We discuss how these approaches can be used to address food security challenges and to overcome specific problems based on the biological characteristics of potato tubers, producing new varieties that can improve farmers’ profit with a lower impact on public opinion. However, political, ethical, and social fears will probably persist much longer, mainly in Italy, historically a fiercely anti-GM country with a European leadership in organic food production and export. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Organic Farming and Gene Manipulation)
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessReview Biotech Approaches to Overcome the Limitations of Using Transgenic Plants in Organic Farming
Sustainability 2016, 8(5), 497; doi:10.3390/su8050497
Received: 16 March 2016 / Revised: 5 May 2016 / Accepted: 18 May 2016 / Published: 20 May 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (183 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Organic farming prohibits the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) inasmuch as their genetic material has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally. In actual fact, there is a conventional identity between GMOs and transgenic organisms, so that genetic modification
[...] Read more.
Organic farming prohibits the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) inasmuch as their genetic material has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally. In actual fact, there is a conventional identity between GMOs and transgenic organisms, so that genetic modification methods such as somatic hybridization and mutagenesis are equalized to conventional breeding. A loophole in this system is represented by more or less innovative genetic engineering approaches under regulatory discussion, such as cisgenesis, oligonucleotide-directed mutagenesis, and antisense technologies, that are redefining the concept of GMOs and might circumvent the requirements of the GMO legislation and, indirectly, of organic farming. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Organic Farming and Gene Manipulation)

Other

Jump to: Editorial, Research, Review

Open AccessComment Comment on Ryffel, G.U. I Have a Dream: Organic Movements Include Gene Manipulation to Improve Sustainable Farming. Sustainability 2017, 9, 392
Sustainability 2017, 9(5), 782; doi:10.3390/su9050782
Received: 5 May 2017 / Revised: 5 May 2017 / Accepted: 5 May 2017 / Published: 9 May 2017
PDF Full-text (142 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Organic Farming and Gene Manipulation)
Open AccessReply Reply to Arbenz, M. Comment on Ryffel, G.U. I Have a Dream: Organic Movements Include Gene Manipulation to Improve Sustainable Farming. Sustainability 2017, 9, 392
Sustainability 2017, 9(5), 788; doi:10.3390/su9050788
Received: 5 May 2017 / Revised: 5 May 2017 / Accepted: 5 May 2017 / Published: 9 May 2017
PDF Full-text (143 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Organic Farming and Gene Manipulation)

Journal Contact

MDPI AG
Sustainability Editorial Office
St. Alban-Anlage 66, 4052 Basel, Switzerland
E-Mail: 
Tel. +41 61 683 77 34
Fax: +41 61 302 89 18
Editorial Board
Contact Details Submit to Sustainability Edit a special issue Review for Sustainability
loading...
Back to Top