Ethics panel holds first session


Strawberries growing under ice at minus 10 ºC thanks to an anti-freeze-producing gene from the winter flounder. (J.Esquinas)


"Genetically modified organisms, the consumer, food safety and the environment" is one of the main topics at the first meeting of the Panel of Eminent Experts on Ethics in Food and Agriculture. (FAO/20618/P.Lowrey)


Panel of Eminent Experts

Mr Francisco J. Ayala, USA
Ms Chen Chunming, China
Mr Asbjørn Eide, Norway
Ms Noëlle Lenoir, France
Mr Mohammed Noor Salleh, Malaysia
Mr Mohammed Rami, Morocco
Ms Lydia Margarita Tablada Romero, Cuba
Mr Melaku Worede, Ethiopia

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Accelerating technological development, resource issues and rapid economic development
have brought to the fore a variety of ethical questions directly related to agriculture, food and food security: What is the value of food? What is the value of human health? What is the value of nature and natural resources? And what impact will today's decisions and policies have on future generations? These are just a few of the ethical questions that need to be considered.

As part of FAO's commitment to ethics in food and agriculture, it has appointed a Panel of Eminent Experts on Ethics in Food and Agriculture. This eight-member panel gathers in Rome from 26 to 28 September for its first session.

The panel's main objective is to provide input and counsel on ethical questions arising within FAO's field of expertise. It also aims to increase the awareness of ethical issues among states, intergovernmental, non-governmental organizations, civil society and the general public worldwide.

The panel will address ethical issues in connection with food production and consumption as well as recent development in agriculture. In particular it will take into consideration the interests of present and future generations regarding sustainable use of natural resources, safeguarding biodiversity and balancing the mix of traditional and modern technologies to increase food security.

"It is my hope that the deliberations of the Panel will help to focus a wide-ranging debate on ethical issues in food and agriculture, and thereby enrich deliberations, both within FAO and outside," says FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf.

The eight eminent experts have all been appointed because of their personal capacities, moral authority and public standing. They come from all over the world and from very different fields of work, from human rights to marine biology. (For a description of the panel members, click here.)

In this first meeting the members will concentrate on two major topics: "ethical issues in food and agriculture" and "genetically modified organisms, the consumer, food safety and the environment."

The appointment of the panel is one of several initiatives taken by the FAO Director- General regarding ethics. He has established an internal Committee and a Sub-Committee on Ethics in Food and Agriculture to oversee FAO's work, including the preparations for the panel meeting and the production of a forthcoming publication series on a variety of ethical issues.

Ethics in food and agriculture

Among the organizers of the first session of the International Panel of Eminent Experts on Ethics in Food and Agriculture, is Dr. Maria Zimmermann, a Senior Agricultural Research Officer in FAO's Research and Technology Development Service . In an interview with Liliane Kambirigi-FAO Information Division-she explains that biotechnology can improve Food Security when it respects people's culture.

You can listen to or download this interview (3min12sec) :

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Biotechnology closely monitored in Latin America

Brazilian Plant breeder, Mr. Hernan Ceballos is also a researcher at the International Center of Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Colombia. For him, experiencing new varieties needs a constant and close monitoring on the progress made and on their impact on the users. This is what he told Liliane Kambirigi-FAO Information Division.

You can listen to or download this interview (1min20sec)

In Realaudio (Instant play:165Kb)

In mp3 (Broadcast quality, to be downloaded:621Kb)

If you can't download, please call for a feed: Eric Deleu (radio unit) 039-06-5705 6863 / 3223


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25 September 2000

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