Artists Anna Dumitriu and Alex May will discuss their project "Biotechnology from the Blue Flower" with a panel of experts from the EU Horizon H2020 CHIC project, with whom they are collaborating. Chicory is believed to have inspired the notion of the Blue Flower in German Romanticism – a central symbol of the movement. It influenced Goethe’s concept of the ‘urpflanze’ or primal plant in his “Metamorphosis of Plants” (and mentioned in Darwin’s “The Origin of Species”). The romantic movement was a reaction to the industrial revolution and held nature and emotion in the highest esteem. But now we are part of a biotechnological revolution and again the chicory plant with its the blue flower becomes an important symbol, but this time in a more complex position at the interface of nature and technology, central to societal explorations of what may be acceptable in terms of synthetic biology, new plant breeding methods and how ‘nature’ and ‘natural’ may be defined in the future.
Our discussion will explore the methodologies of “New Plant Breeding Techniques” such as gene editing using CRISPR, the potential uses of these techniques to improve food security and mitigate the impact of climate change, and it will focus on the question what does 'natural' really mean anyway - or as Goethe put it "The Unnatural, That Too is Natural".