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July 2024

Vandals Destroy Italy’s First Gene-Edited Rice Field Trial

Euroseeds condemns the destruction of Italy’s first open field trial of gene-edited rice by vandals on June 21 in northern Italy. This trial was crucial for testing the resistance of the rice, named ‘RIS8imo,’ against fungal diseases, representing a significant advance in sustainable agriculture, according to a press release.

RIS8imo, developed using CRISPR technology, aimed to reduce the need for fungicides through targeted mutations. Previous lab results showed promising disease resistance.

Garlich von Essen, Secretary General & CEO of Euroseeds, criticized the vandalism as a criminal act against science and public order, highlighting its detrimental impact on plant research and the development of improved crop varieties.

“The destruction of this field trial is an unacceptable criminal act of vandals that disrespect the law and public order. It is also an act against science and a significant and disappointing setback for the plant research and breeding community in Europe,” said von Essen in a statement on the Euroseeds website. “Outdoor trials are a crucial element for testing and gaining a better understanding of plant biology and the potential benefits of targeted mutations for developing improved crop varieties.

“We strongly condemn this act of destruction and obstruction of lawful research. It is essential that the freedom to conduct research within the regulatory framework is respected. This incident not only hampers scientific progress but also deprives European citizens of reaping the potential benefits that arise from years of dedicated research aimed at reducing the environmental impact of rice cultivation,” von Essen said.

Led by Vittoria Brambilla’s team at the University of Milan, this trial was the first authorized under a 2023 law that streamlined procedures for gene-edited plant trials. Euroseeds calls for swift action to support researchers and prevent future incidents, emphasizing the need to respect the freedom to conduct lawful research. QR Code

Published Date: June 28, 2024

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