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Terms of reference
of the Panel of Eminent Experts on Ethics in Food and Agriculture

The Panel of Eminent Experts on Ethics in Food and Agriculture shall advise the Director-General on ethical issues in food and agriculture, including forestry and fisheries. The eminent experts shall be appointed by the Director-General under the terms of Article VI.4 of the FAO Constitution and Rule XXXV of the General Rules of the Organization and the guidance provided by the Conference.


The Panel shall consist of eight Eminent Experts designated in their personal capacity by the Director-General, in accordance with established procedures and practices for a period of four years. The eminent experts shall be of high moral authority and public standing. The Panel shall represent different scientific and other disciplines, and varied geographic, cultural and religious backgrounds.

Terms of Reference

  1. The Panel of Eminent Experts shall reflect on and promote reflection on ethical issues arising from food production and consumption practices and on agricultural development, including forestry and fisheries, in the context of food security and sustainable rural development and in an environment of rapid global change.
  2. The Panel shall, in particular, consider ethical issues relating to the interests of present and future generations regarding the sustainable use of natural resources, the safeguarding of biodiversity and a balanced mix of traditional and modern technologies to increase food security and sustainable agriculture.
  3. Based on the above considerations, the Panel shall:
    1. promote an overall sense of international responsibility with regard to the development of necessary policies and instruments aimed at maximizing global benefits, while minimizing the risks, arising from the application of modern technologies to food and agriculture;
    2. seek to increase the awareness of states, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society and public opinion worldwide with regard to ethical issues in food and agriculture in order to promote international understanding and appropriate action on such issues, bearing in mind that different communities have different cultural values;
    3. advise on possible international, regional or national action or the preparation of instruments, as appropriate, to respond best to ethical issues arising from food and agricultural practices, with due regard to interdependence among generations, among countries and between food security and other community needs;
    4. encourage the exchange of information on all issues of an ethical nature arising from food and agriculture.
  4. The Panel may consider any other issue related to the above.
  5. In its consideration of the above, the Panel shall advise the Director-General on the possible role and policies of FAO.


of the Panel of Eminent Experts on Ethics in Food and Agriculture

Francisco J. Ayala, United States of America

Born in 1934 in Madrid, Spain. A citizen of the United States since 1971. Professor of Biological Sciences and of Philosophy at the University of California, Irvine (United States). Former President and Chair of the Board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Member of the President’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology. Author of more than 700 articles and 15 books. Mr Ayala’s scientific research focuses on population and evolutionary genetics, including the origin of species, genetic diversity of populations, the origin of malaria, the population structure of parasitic protozoa and the molecular clock of evolution. He also writes about the interface between religion and science and on philosophical issues concerning epistemology, ethics and the philosophy of biology.

Chen Chunming, China

Born in 1925. Founding President of the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine from 1983 to 1992. Continues to serve as a Professor of Nutrition and Senior Advisor to the Academy. Currently Chair of the National Expert Committee on AIDS Prevention and Control and Vice Chair of the National Consultation Committee on Food and Nutrition. A member of the World Health Organization Expert Advisory Panel on Nutrition since 1979. Chair of the Committee for Ethics of the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine and a member of the Ethics Committee of Biomedical Research in Asia. Awarded the FAO Certificate of Achievement in Nutrition in 1992. Ms Chen has focused on population nutrition and nutrition policy studies since 1982. She designed the current National Nutrition Surveillance System in China and is the key supervisor of the system. She is an expert on the nutrition status of children and the general population, and on the food consumption behaviour of Chinese people during economic development.

Asbjørn Eide, Norway

Born in 1933. Former Director and now Senior Fellow of the Norwegian Institute of Human Rights, attached to the University of Oslo. Former Secretary-General of the International Peace Research Association. Member and former Chair of the United Nations Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, and former Special Rapporteur of the Sub-Commission on the Right to Food as a Human Right. Mr Eide is currently Chair of the United Nations Working Group on Minorities. He has published extensively on human rights issues and is Doctor Juris of the Lund University.

Noëlle Lenoir, France

Born in 1948. Jurist, Member of the French Constitutional Court (first woman to be appointed to this court). President of the European Group on Ethics of the European Union. Former President of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s International Bioethics Committee. Member of the Consultative Forum for Dialogue between Europe and the United States on Biotechnology. Ms Lenoir is an Associate Professor at the Law School of University of Paris II on Bioethics and Human Rights.

Mohammed Noor Salleh, Malaysia

Born in 1940. Forester and former Director-General of the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia. Former President of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations and former Chair of the Asia Pacific Association of Forest Research Institutions. Former member of the Technical Advisory Committee for the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research and for the Scientific Technical Advisory Panel of the Global Environment Facility. Mr Salleh is currently a member of the Malaysian Human Rights Commission, President of the Malaysian Nature Society and Secretary-General of the Academy of Sciences, Malaysia. He manages a research company on biotechnology and a forestry consultancy company.

Mohammed Rami, Morocco

Born in 1952. M.Sc. in Quantitative Sciences and Fisheries Management, University of Washington, Seattle, United States. Former Director of the Moroccan Fisheries Research Institute, Casablanca (1986–1992). Former Director of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Ministry of Fisheries, Rabat (1992–1998). Mr Rami is currently Adviser to the Prime Minister of Morocco on External Economic Affairs and Fisheries Policies.

Lydia Margarita Tablada Romero, Cuba

Born in 1947. Doctor in Medicine and Director-General of the National Centre for Animal and Plant Health and Professor of Microbiology at the Havana Agricultural University. Until 1998, a member of the State Council and National Assembly in Cuba. Ms Tablada Romero is an emeritus member of the Cuban Academy of Science.

Melaku Worede, Ethiopia

Born in 1936. Geneticist and former Director of Plant Genetic Resources Centre of Ethiopia. Former Chair of the African Committee for Plant Genetic Resources. Vice-Chair, and later Chair, of the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Mr Worede was the recipient of the Right Livelihood Award (also referred to as the Alternative Nobel Prize) in 1989, Stockholm, Sweden, for achievements in genetic resource work.


of the Panel of Eminent Experts on Ethics in Food and Agriculture


Rome, 18–20 March 2002

Monday 18 March

9:30–10:15 Opening and welcome statements
10:30–11:45 Discussion with members of FAO Committee and Sub-Committees on Ethics in Food and Agriculture
11:45–12:30 Adoption of the agenda and organization of work
14:30–17:30 Topic 1: Ethics and the globalization of food and agriculture

Tuesday 19 March

09:30–12:30 Topic 2: The ethics of sustainable agricultural intensification
14:30–17:30 Follow-up on documentation prepared pursuant to the Report of the First Session of the Panel

Wednesday 20 March

09:30–11:00 Discussions continued
11:15–12:00 Other business; preparation of the Report of the Panel
12:00–12:30 Closing session


Wednesday 20 March

14:30–17:30 Press conference

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