Unlike a large number of organic farmers who view genetic engineering with skepticism, this particular farmer views the advent of new genetic engineering technologies as a window of opportunity. He expresses his disappointment with the political establishment, stating, “I am disenchanted with the politics of our time. When it comes to issues of climate protection, the scientific stance is always referenced. However, with the advent of new genetic engineering, the scientific perspective is utterly disregarded and ignored.”
The Potential for a Reduction in the Use of Fertilizers and Pesticides
He argues that new genetic engineering holds the potential to significantly diminish the use of fertilizers and pesticides within the agricultural sector. Mühl highlights the benefits, stating, “These breeding methods are far more precise and they work at a faster pace.” This new technology enables the adaptation of breeding to keep pace with the rapid changes and evolving requirements brought about by climate change. He further points out that due to the world’s ever-growing population, there is an urgent need to increase agricultural yields. Mühl concludes by saying, “The principles of organic farming and genetic engineering are not contradictory.”
However, he expresses his concern that new genetic engineering might enhance farmers’ reliance on large seed manufacturers. Unlike traditional breeding, genetic engineering processes can be patented. This effectively bars other seed manufacturers from breeding the plant or using it to further breed new varieties. In contrast, traditional breeding allows for the use of the plant for further breeding without infringing upon patent rights.
Mühl calls for a similar legal framework for new genetic engineering as is in place for traditional breeding. He states, “It is indeed legitimate for corporations to aspire to earn profits from their breeding efforts. This is what fuels progress. However, it is also the responsibility of the political establishment to ensure that the appropriate legal framework is in place to guide the use of new genetic engineering technologies in a controlled and orderly manner.”
In Mühl’s view, farmers should not risk prosecution for patent infringement by seed manufacturers if genetically modified plants accidentally cross-pollinate in adjacent fields.
For a considerable amount of time, politicians and environmental organizations have propagated the narrative that Austria is free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). However, the reality is that genetic engineering is a common practice in the medical field. It is also a fact that genetically modified soy is imported in large quantities for use as animal feed. Furthermore, there is no requirement for genetically modified food additives, such as those used in the production of cheese, dyes, vitamins, flavors or sweeteners, to be labeled as such.