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The Panel of Eminent Experts on Ethics in Food and Agriculture was established by the Director-General in accordance with Article VI.4 of the FAO Constitution and Rule XXXV of the General Rules of the Organization, for a period of four years as of 1 January 2000. Its Terms of Reference, to raise public awareness and advise the Director-General on ethical issues in food and agriculture, are provided in Annex 1.


The Director-General appointed eight eminent experts from different scientific and other disciplines to serve on the Panel in their personal capacity for four years. The members of the Panel are Mr Francisco J. Ayala from the United States, Ms Chen Chunming from China, Mr Asbjørn Eide from Norway, Ms Noëlle Lenoir from France, Mr Mohammed Noor Salleh from Malaysia, Mr Mohammed Rami from Morocco, Ms Lydia Margarita Tablada Romero from Cuba and Mr Melaku Worede from Ethiopia. A summary biography for each Panel member is contained in Annex 2.


The Panel held its first session at FAO headquarters in Rome from 26-28 September 2000. The Director-General had requested Mr Asbjørn Eide to serve as Chair of the first session. At the end of that session, the Panel requested Mr Eide to continue to function as Chair for the four-year duration of the Panel.

The Panel adopted the draft agenda with the understanding that slight revisions could be made during the session. It discussed three main themes: i) the basic ethical concerns flowing from its Terms of Reference; ii) ethical issues in food and agriculture; and iii) biotechnologies and genetically modified organisms in relation to the consumer, food safety and the environment.1 Future work was also discussed. The Agenda of the Panel's first session is provided in Annex 3.

1 The secretariat provided the Panel with draft versions of the FAO Ethics Series Nos 1 and 2, entitled Ethical issues in food and agricultureand Genetically modified organisms, consumers, food safety and the environment.

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