The FAO Biotechnology Forum was launched in 2000 with the goal of providing access to quality balanced information and to make a neutral platform available for all interested stakeholders to openly exchange views and experiences on agricultural biotechnologies in developing countries. It hosts a series of moderated e-mail conferences on specific topics related to agricultural biotechnologies in developing countries which are discussed for a limited time period (usually about 4 weeks). It has hosted a total of 19 moderated e-mail conferences so far.
Conference 19 ran from 4 to 24 March 2013 and dealt with the topic of Genomics. Its title is "Impacts of genomics and other 'omics' for the crop, forestry, livestock, fishery and agro-industry sectors in developing countries". Advances in genomics, the study of all the genetic material (i.e. the genome) of an organism, have been remarkable in recent years. Publication of the first draft of the human genome in 2001 was a milestone, quickly followed by that of the first crop (rice) in 2002 and the first farm animal (chicken) in 2004. Huge technological advancements have meant that sequencing has become dramatically quicker and cheaper over time, so the genomes of many of the important crops, livestock, forest trees, aquatic animals and agricultural pests are now already sequenced or soon will be. This e-mail conference will look at the impacts that genomics, and the other related 'omics', have had so far on food and agriculture in developing countries as well as their potential impacts in the near future. The 10-page Background Document (90 KB) to the conference was published on 28 February.
A total of 522 people subscribed to the conference, of whom 44 (i.e. 8%) submitted at least one message. Of the 61 messages that were posted, 36% came from people living in Asia; 28% from Europe; 13% from Latin America and the Caribbean; 10% from Africa; 8% from North America; and 5% from Oceania. The messages came from people living in 22 different countries, the greatest number coming from India (13 messages) followed by the United Kingdom (7), United States (5), Finland (4) and Nigeria (4). A total of 35 messages (i.e. 57%) were posted by people living in developing countries. Just over half of the messages came from people working in universities; a quarter came from people working in research centres, including CGIAR centres; while the remaining quarter came from people working in the private sector, for the Government or working as independent consultants. All messages posted during the conference so far are available HERE (460 KB).
The previous conference of the FAO Biotechnology Forum (nr. 18) took place from 5 November to 2 December 2012 and was dedicated to the topic of "GMOs in the pipeline: Looking to the next five years in the crop, forestry, livestock, aquaculture and agro-industry sectors in developing countries". Its goal was to inform the debate about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the pipeline, considering the specific kind of GMOs that are likely to be commercialised in developing countries over the next five years and to discuss the likely implications of these new GMOs for developing countries. A Background Document (60 KB) was published before the conference began. The conference summary document, entitled "An FAO e-mail conference on GMOs in the pipeline in developing countries: The moderator’s summary" (90 KB) was published in January 2013.
A total of 770 people subscribed to this conference on 'GMOs in the pipeline' and, of these, 59 (i.e. 8%) submitted at least one message. Of the 109 messages that were posted, 36% came from people living in Asia; 26% from Europe; 24% from North America; 10% from Latin America and the Caribbean; and 5% from Africa. The messages came from people living in 24 different countries, the greatest number coming from India (31 messages) followed by the United States (25 messages). A total of 55 messages (i.e. 50%) were posted by people living in developing countries. A total of 30% of messages came from people working in universities; 18% from participants from non-governmental organisations; 17% from people working in research centres; 12% from people working in the private sector; 11% from people working as independent consultants and 8% from people in Governments. All of the 109 messages posted during the 4-week moderated conference can be viewed BY CLICKING HERE (940 KB).
The previous e-mail conference (nr. 17) hosted by the Forum ran from 14 November to 18 December 2011, and was entitled "Strengthening partnerships in agricultural biotechnologies for the benefit of smallholders in developing countries: Discussing North-South, South-South, Public-Private cooperation and more". Before the conference began, a 13-page Background Document was published, providing information about the subject that participants would find useful for the debate. The conference was characterised by a large number of very informative, enjoyable and interesting messages, where some of the main topics discussed included Public-Private partnerships, South-South cooperation and the importance of involving smallholders. All the 76 messages posted during the 5-week moderated conference can be viewed BY CLICKING HERE (484 KB).
The Conference before that ran from 8 June to 8 July 2009 and was entitled Learning from the past: Successes and failures with agricultural biotechnologies in developing countries over the last 20 years. Its aim was to analyse past experiences of applying different agricultural biotechnologies in the crop, forestry, livestock, fisheries/aquaculture and agro-industry sectors in developing countries. During the conference, 121 messages were posted by 83 people living in 36 different countries, the greatest number coming from India, Nigeria, Argentina, United States and Cameroon. A total of 90 messages (i.e. 74%) were posted by participants living in developing countries. All the Messages posted are available on the web. The conference was held to complement a series of technical documents being prepared for the FAO international technical conference on Agricultural Biotechnologies in Developing Countries which takes place in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The 15 previous e-mail conferences, that took place from 2000 to 2008, dealt with the appropriateness of biotechnologies in the crop (conference 1), forestry (2), livestock (3) and fishery (4) sectors; their implications for hunger and food security (5); the impact of intellectual property rights (6); gene flow from genetically modified (GM) to non-GM populations (7); their role in the agricultural research agenda (8); regulation of GMOs (9); and the use of molecular markers for genetic improvement in developing countries (10). Later conferences have dealt with public participation in decision-making about GMOs (12) and the role of biotechnologies in food processing (11); for characterization and conservation of genetic resources for food and agriculture (13); in coping with water scarcity (14); and for production of bioenergy (15).
The Forum covers 'agricultural biotechnologies', a term which includes a broad range of technologies that are used in crops, livestock, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture, and agro-industry. They are used for a number of different purposes, such as the genetic improvement of plant varieties and animal populations to increase their yields or efficiency; the characterization and conservation of genetic resources for food and agriculture; plant or animal disease diagnosis; and vaccine development. Some of these technologies may be applied to all the food and agricultural sectors, such as the use of molecular markers or genetic modification, while others are more sector-specific, such as tissue culture (in crops and forest trees), embryo transfer (livestock) or sex-reversal (fish).
1. The book on its first six e-mail conferences, entitled Agricultural biotechnology for developing countries: Results of an electronic forum was published in 2002 and is also available in Spanish and Chinese.
2. The book on conferences 7 to 12, entitled Results from the FAO Biotechnology Forum: Background and dialogue on selected issues was published in 2007 and is currently being translated into French.
3. In 2006, the book entitled The role of biotechnology in exploring and protecting agricultural genetic resources was published, containing the background and summary documents from the 13th e-mail conference plus papers from an international workshop held as part of build up to the conference.
4. In January 2009, the book on Coping with water scarcity: What role for biotechnologies? was published, presenting the background and summary documents from conference 14.
Conferences that have been held so far:
- Conference 1 (March 20 - May 26, 2000):
How appropriate are currently available biotechnologies in the crop sector for food production and agriculture in developing countries
- Conference 2 (April 25 - June 30, 2000):
How appropriate are currently available biotechnologies for the forestry sector in developing countries
- Conference 3 (June 12 - August 25, 2000):
The appropriateness, significance and application of biotechnology options in the animal agriculture of developing countries
- Conference 4 (August 1 - October 8, 2000):
How appropriate are currently available biotechnologies for the fishery sector in developing countries ?
- Conference 5 (November 1 - December 17, 2000):
Can agricultural biotechnology help to reduce hunger and increase food security in developing countries ?
- Conference 6 (March 30 - May 13, 2001):
The impact of intellectual property rights (IPRs) on food and agriculture in developing countries
- Conference 7 (May 31 - July 5, 2002):
Gene flow from GM to non-GM populations in the crop, forestry, animal and fishery sectors
- Conference 8 (November 13 - December 17, 2002):
What should be the role and focus of biotechnology in the agricultural research agendas of developing countries?
- Conference 9 (April 28 - May 25, 2003):
Regulating GMOs in developing and transition countries
- Conference 10 (November 17 - December 14, 2003):
Molecular marker assisted selection as a potential tool for genetic improvement of crops, forest trees, livestock and fish in developing countries
- Conference 11 (June 14 - July 15, 2004):
Biotechnology applications in food processing: Can developing countries benefit?
- Conference 12 (January 17 - February 13, 2005):
Public participation in decision-making regarding GMOs in developing countries: How to effectively involve rural people
- Conference 13 (June 6 - July 3, 2005):
The role of biotechnology for the characterisation and conservation of crop, forest, animal and fishery genetic resources in developing countries
- Conference 14 (March 5 - April 1, 2007):
Coping with water scarcity in developing countries: What role for agricultural biotechnologies?
- Conference 15 (November 10 - December 14, 2008):
The role of agricultural biotechnologies for production of bioenergy in developing countries
- Conference 16 (June 8 - July 8, 2009):
Learning from the past: Successes and failures with agricultural biotechnologies in developing countries over the last 20 years
- Conference 17 (November 14 - December 18, 2011):
Strengthening partnerships in agricultural biotechnologies for the benefit of smallholders in developing countries: Discussing North-South, South-South, Public-Private cooperation and more
- Conference 18 (November 5 - December 2, 2012):
GMOs in the pipeline: Looking to the next five years in the crop, forestry, livestock, aquaculture and agro-industry sectors in developing countries
Page Last Updated: 26 March 2013