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This conference ran from 31 May - 6 July 2002.

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    Conference 7 ran from 31 May to 6 July 2002.

    The theme of this conference is the potential importance and impact of gene flow from genetically modified (GM) crops, forest trees, fish or animals to non-GM populations, with particular focus on developing countries. This issue has been raised on numerous occasions by participants in previous e-mail conferences hosted by this FAO Forum (see the report of the first six conferences). The issue of the potential importance and consequence of transgenes moving from GM crops to traditional landraces has also been brought sharply to the forefront recently, following reports of transgenic material in maize landraces cultivated in Oaxaca in southern Mexico, part of the centre of origin and diversification of this crop.

    The FAO Electronic Forum on Biotechnology in Food and Agriculture was established in March 2000 to provide a neutral platform for various parties to exchange views and experiences so that it might be possible to better understand and clarify the issues and concerns behind the debate on agricultural biotechnology for developing countries. A conference on the subject of gene flow from GM to non-GM populations appears therefore to be both appropriate and timely.

    The issue of gene flow from GM populations is not only of potential relevance to crop landraces or traditional varieties but also to wild relatives of the domesticated species, organic crops or non-GM crops cultivated under intensive conditions. Furthermore, the issue does not only concern crop plants. The current media focus on gene flow in crops is determined primarily by the fact that there is no commercial-scale planting of GM trees and no GM animals or fish are currently approved for human consumption. If (or when) this situation changes, there will also be much focus on gene flow issues in these sectors and therefore they are included here.

    The aim of the Background Document is to provide some brief background to the subject as well as to mention some of the factors that should be considered in the conference.

    Read the full Background Document for Conference 7:
    Gene flow from GM to non-GM populations in the crop, forestry, animal and fishery sectors.

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© FAO, 2002