SUMMARY CONFERENCE 8
Conference 8 of the FAO Electronic Forum on Biotechnology in Food and
Agriculture was entitled "What should be the role and focus of biotechnology
in the agricultural research agendas of developing countries ?"
It ran from 13 November to 16 December 2002. The Summary Document of the conference
(14 pages) provides a summary of the main arguments and concerns discussed during the conference.
The agricultural research agenda should be defined using a "bottom-up" approach, based on the needs of local
communities in developing countries. The needs and realities of small farmers in developing countries require
special attention in the research agenda. Research is very important for developing country agriculture and more
public funding of biotechnology research is needed. There is general agreement about the positive role that non-GMO
biotechnology research can play in developing countries but opinions are divided about use of scarce agricultural
research resources for GMO research. Biotechnology research can and should complement research into conventional
technologies. Research collaboration, both within and between countries, is essential for developing countries but
there are some reservations about public-private sector collaborations. Intellectual property rights are an issue of
concern for biotechnology research in developing countries. With reduced national research budgets, regional
collaborations have special importance. Opinions are divided on whether developing countries should develop their
own biotechnology products and techniques or whether they should adapt those developed elsewhere. These were some
of the outcomes of a moderated e-mail conference, entitled "What should be the role and focus of biotechnology in
the agricultural research agendas of developing countries?", hosted by the FAO Biotechnology Forum from 13 November
to 16 December 2002. During the 5-week conference, 347 people subscribed and 128 messages were posted, about 60%
from people living in developing countries. Most were from people working in research centres/organisations (35%),
universities (25%) and NGOs (20%), with the remainder coming from independent consultants (10%) or people working
in government agencies or FAO.
the entire Summary Document of this conference.