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(29 June 2009, Berlin Germany)

How to strengthen the voice of biosafety research in the public debate on GM plants

(12 May 2009) A main goal of BIOSAFENET, an EU-funded network of European scientists, is robust public information on the biosafety research conducted on genetically modified (GM) plants. In the long-standing debate on the safety of transgenic crops, such research and its comprehensive, enlightening results often have been relegated to a subordinate role or ignored altogether. However, a scientific basis is needed for the socio-political decision-making frames and the responsible and sustainable application of such technology in agriculture and the food industry. BIOSAFENET and other European initiatives contribute to the bundling of biosafety knowledge. The BIOSAFENET project was conceived as an important tool for objective policy consultation and as a comprehensive source of biosafety information for a broad section of the public.

At the conference, BIOSAFENET will present its achievements in strengthening a wide network of European biosafety researchers and in the promotion of dialogue among researchers, as well as between scientists and the public. Two further initiatives, the Public Research and Regulation Initiative (PRRI) and the International Society for Biosafety Research, will also present their activities.

A briefing has been planned for the press with representatives from BIOSAFENET, ISBR and PRRI. Information booths will represent ISBR as well as other research and communications initiatives such as bioSicherheit (a BMBF-sponsored communications platform of German biosafety projects) and the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB).

The conference concludes with a podium discussion of the topic, "What does the public need for opinion making? Available information sources on biosafety results". The attending European biosafety initiatives seek dialogue with stakeholders and journalists about their information needs and about more direct pathways towards closer exchange of information and opinions between science and the public. Central attention should be focused towards the appropriate format and content of information offers.


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