The Public Research and Regulation Initiative (PRRI) and EuropaBio organized a seminar entitled Unshackling Innovation: Will Europe block or enable GM crops? at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium on September 27, 2016 to discuss concerns on genetically modified (GM) crops.
Europe helped invent agricultural biotechnology, but has done more than anyone else to thwart genetically modified crops. Will Europe’s cold shoulder prevent urgent agricultural modernization in developing countries? Will Europe’s scientists ever see their innovations take root? What can Europe learn from other countries’ experiences? How can science reclaim its seat at the table?
These were the concerns raised during the seminar, with the objective to unshackle innovation in agricultural biotechnology so that it reaches the farmers to feed the growing global population. Members of the EU Parliament who spoke at the seminar, Anthea McIntyre and Lambert van Nistelrooji called for GM crops to be adopted in the light of climate Change, growing population, and the need for sustainable agriculture practice with minimum environmental footprints.
Sir Richard Roberts, the Nobel Laureate who organized the petition against Greenpeace over GMOs gave his candid views on why GM crops cannot be ignored when millions are starving or malnourished in many parts of the world. Other speakers from the public sector research, industry, farmers’ associations, and government agencies shared similar views that innovation in agriculture, especially GM technology and New Breeding Technologies (NBTs) should be part of the breeders’ toolkit. They also stated that activism against GM crops is a crime against humanity which is not supported by sound science. The speakers also said that Europe should show leadership for developing countries in embracing GM technology and NBTs in agriculture, and address challenges in agriculture, including ageing farming community, food insecurity in many countries, and climate change.
Prof. Marc Van Montagu, Prof. Diran Makinde, and Dr. Mahaletchumy Arujanan spoke at the seminar, among other speakers.