Friday, 9 December 2011

GMO Debate at AutoWorld

The section's second Cafe Chimique of IYC 2011 focused on the Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) debate. Speakers from EuropaBio (Carel du Marchie Sarvaas) and Friends of the Earth Europe (Adrian Bebb) made short presentations on GMOs and policy developments in the green biotechnology area before entering into a spirited debate with an informed audience.

The debate took place on 24 November in a convivial cafe-style environment at AutoWorld, Parc Cinquantenaire in Brussels. Before and after the debate the audience had the chance to mix and discuss the GMO issue with drinks and light refreshment available.

To help us understand the issues, possibilities and policy pros and cons two distinguished speakers led the debate.

GMO speakers
Adrian Bebb of Friends of the Earth (FoE) Europe (right) and Carel du Marchie Sarvaas from EuropaBio (left) are pictured with section Chairman Prof. Bob Crichton.

Adrian is a long-time FoE campaigner. He is now based in FoE Europe’s Munich office and is Food, Agriculture and Biodiversity Programme Coordinator. Previously he worked with FoE Europe as Agrofuels Campaign Coordinator and GMO Campaigner. Prior to joining the FoE Europe office he was co-ordinator for the Real Food Campaign for FoE UK.

Carel was appointed as Director for Agricultural Biotechnology at EuropaBio in April 2010. He is a Dutch national and has many years experience as a senior public affairs and communications advisor working in Brussels, The Hague and Washington DC. Prior to joining EuropaBio, Carel was Managing Director Public Affairs for Hill & Knowlton International in Brussels.

Hot debate
The two speakers both focused on the huge challenge facing humanity: how to feed 9 billion people and preserve the environment and biodiversity? Debate was heated on occassion with little common ground between the speakers and a wide diversity of opinion coming from the audience.

Before and after the debate, the audience will be polled on a question relating to GM crops to see if their views have been changed by proceedings. Both before and after there was a clear majority in favour of 'GMO' technology, but there was a lower pro-GMO vote following the debate.

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