On the Nature of Nature, a research report

Whether or not something is ‘natural’, plays a role in numerous societal debates, e.g. on animal caretaking, on taking down trees in the context of nature conservation or on the use of corona-vaccines. In the societal debate about the desirability of genetic modification, as well, whether or not genetic modification is ‘natural’ is a central topic of debate. According to some, genetic modification is undesirable because it is ‘unnatural’. On the other hand, others argue that genetic changes also occur in ‘nature’ or that humans ‘by their nature’ strive for innovation. That is, different meanings of the term ‘nature’ are being used in parallel, which can obscure or stall the debate. Utrecht UMC and Erasmus School of Law have untangled the different meanings of ‘nature’ in the context of genetic modification in this research report, that was commissioned by the COGEM.

Overall, this report offers nuance and provides further insight into an argument that is used in many societal debates, and offers the possibility to reflect on its underlying values and concerns.

Read the full report