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Festival of Plants Panel Discussion: Biotechnology and Genetic Modification – a Mature Conversation

On Friday 16 May at 16:00, SLCU will host a debate in Cambridge on the potential of GM crops in agriculture in developing countries.

 

Our understanding of plant biology is rapidly increasing. We have made significant progress in analysing important agronomic properties such as disease resistance and drought tolerance. This knowledge can be applied in many different ways but there is no doubt that, in some cases, GM approaches have the potential to deliver major improvements in crop productivity.

However, in Europe, GM is extremely controversial and this has all but eliminated the cultivation of GM crops here. There is good evidence that the European attitudes to GM are having knock-on effects on GM adoption in developing countries.

To discuss these issues, we are hosting a panel discussion. The three panel members have all contributed to science and policy debates on genetic modification and biotechnology in the context of contemporary agriculture and food production. Professor Ottoline Leyser, Director of the Sainsbury Laboratory will give an overview of the technology. Professor Andy Stirling, Professor of Science and Technology Policy at the University of Sussex, will explore the controversies surrounding the adoption and use of genetic modification and biotechnology, and how civil society and policy actors have framed the science-policy dialogue in this context. Finally, Dr Emmanuel Okogbenin, Director of Technical Operations at African Agricultural Technology Foundation will consider the role, potential and limitations of genetic modification and agro-biotechnology, with a specific focus on Africa.

The panel-style discussion, followed by a structured Q&A session, will be chaired by Susan Watts, formerly Science Editor on BBC Newsnight.

This event is part of the Humanitarian Centre's Global Food Futures Year and the Cambridge University Botanic Garden's Festival of Plants.

Professor Leyser explains "It's time to move beyond the hyperbole surrounding GM and ask instead how we can best use the many and diverse tools and resources available to us to address the pressing issues of global food security".

Attendance is free but ticketed. Tickets are available from http://food-security.eventbrite.co.uk 

For press enquiries, please contact:

Craig Brierley
Head of Research Communications
Office of External Affairs and Communications
University of Cambridge
The Pitt Building, Trumpington Street, Cambridge, CB2 1RP
Telephone: 01223 766205
Mobile: 07957 468218
Craig.Brierley@admin.cam.ac.uk