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Dutch tribute to Nobel Prize for the discoverers of CRISPR-Cas

It will not be easy to achieve the European Green Deal objectives if the current strict European legislation against the admission of new breeding technologies, such as CRISPR-Cas, continues to exist.

This is what Dutch researchers Justus Wesseler and his colleague Kai Purnhagen say in an article published in Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy. The article appeared yesterday on the day the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to researchers who developed CRISPR-Cas.

The French Emmanuelle Charpentier and the American Jennifer Doudna are at the basis of the applications of this technique in which DNA can be modified. For example, errors from DNA can be 'cut out' very accurately. “This technology has a revolutionary impact on the life sciences,” said the Nobel Committee.

CRISPR-Cas makes it possible to modify DNA and switch off genes with unprecedented precision. Many (hereditary) diseases in humans could be a thing of the past with this technique.

In livestock farming, revolutionary technology is being looked at with interest. Common animal diseases could be removed from the DNA of animals, which would improve animal health around the world. But arable farming and livestock farming are also looking with interest at this technique, which is still prohibited in the EU. The European Court has classed the Crispr-Cas under 'genetic modification' up to now and has refused admission.

Just this week, the Standing Committee is meeting in Brussels to make recommendations on the authorization of new crop protection agents or the ban on existing pesticides. Both in the European Parliament and in scientific circles it is increasingly argued that CRISPR-Cas is not a chemical additive but a natural removal.

The Ministry of Agriculture recognizes that breeding techniques can play an important role in agriculture in Europe, especially in arable farming and horticulture. Most breeding and production companies are located in the Netherlands. The importance is therefore very high, and to a lesser extent also applies to Denmark, Germany and France.

CRISPR-Cas is also the research area of Wageningen researcher John van der Oost, who previously received the Spinoza Prize for his work. He has worked closely with Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna for many years. According to the two Nobel Prize winners, Van der Oost has also made a major contribution to the success of this subject.

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