Is it possible to trace which component of a product is genetically modified and when? How can consumers recognize which ingredients are genetically modified? Is "genetically modified" good or bad? Healthy or unhealthy? These are the questions that are wafting through the Kutschenhaus in Schloss Thurnau this weekend. Eight people sit at each of the four large tables and discuss these questions. They have already received top-class input and are now sorting through their questions. They are members of a "Citizen Jury" whose ideas and concerns, questions and proposed solutions are to be incorporated into EU legislation. "It's fascinating to be involved in EU legislation in some way," says one participant. Another is pleased about the opportunity to "exchange ideas with real luminaries" and yet another participant is "making it clear that we don't need genetic engineering to secure the world's food supply, but a rethink in agriculture and the food industry", while the person sitting next to her is pondering "how we can inform people better".

The background to the Citizen Jury are numerous upcoming changes to the regulations on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) at EU level: the use of genetic engineering or DNA recombination technology is strictly regulated. Before a genetically modified organism (GMO) or a product modified in this way can be placed on the market in the EU, it is systematically and thoroughly tested for its safety for humans, animals and the environment. The acceptance of GMOs will be discussed by the predominantly young members of the citizens' assembly. "After all, they are the ones who will be affected by the impact of new laws," says Prof. Dr. Kai Purnhagen, whose chair initiated the Citizen Jury. "In the end, we want to be able to show the conditions under which citizens would agree to new genomic techniques in plant breeding and in food/feed use," summarizes Alexandra Molitorisova, research associate at the chair and organizer of the Citizen Jury. Purnhagen announces: "The results of the Citizen Jury will be made available to the Commission and the EU Joint Research Center as part of a policy paper. They will then have an influence on genetic engineering law, which has so far been criticized for its allegedly weak involvement of citizens."

Many of the experts involved in Thurnau are advisors to the EU Commission. These included Prof. Dr. Detlef Bartsch, Head of the Genetic Engineering department at the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety, Assoc. Prof. Dennis Eriksson from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, coordinator of the Horizon Europe project GeneBEcon on gene editing in potatoes and microalgae, Prof. Dr. Justus Wesseler, Chair of Agricultural Economics and Rural Policy at Wageningen University, and Prof. Dr. Philipp Aerni, Director of the Center for Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability and Professor of Sustainability and Impact Entrepreneurship at the Fribourg School of Business, as well as ETH Professor Urs Niggli, President of the swiss Institute for Agroecology. 

Alexandra MolitorisovaLecturer & Junior Researcher

University of Bayreuth
Chair of Food Law at the Faculty of Life Sciences: Food, Nutrition and Health in Kulmbach

Anja-Maria Meister

Anja-Maria MeisterPR Spokesperson of the University of Bayreuth</p>

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