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Scientists See a Place for ‘Rewilded’ Plants in Organic Farming

One of the key elements of organic agriculture, as defined by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), is that it rejects what it terms “unpredictable” technologies, such as genetic engineering. But what if adding a gene from undomesticated plants to bring back a natural trait isn’t unpredictable, argue Danish scientists, ethicists, and legal experts in a review published in Trends in Plant Science.
They present a case for using precise genetic engineering technologies to “rewild” crops in a way that would make organic farming more efficient, and thus more profitable.
The concept behind “rewilding” is that grocery-brand fruits and vegetables have been made weak by generations of breeding for traits that yield the best harvest, and so a way to toughen them up would be to add genes found in their wild cousins, which are less bountiful but more resilient to pests, drought, and other challenges.
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