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Practical Aspects of the FAO Biotechnology Forum:

The Forum hosts a series of e-mail conferences on specific topics that are discussed for a limited time period only. The topics are about agricultural biotechnologies and may cover themes such as biosafety, public/private agricultural research, biodiversity, capacity-building, poverty alleviation, benefit sharing, intellectual property rights and food production, all topics as they relate to developing countries. As the Forum covers the broad range of activities found within the area of food and agriculture, it includes topics both of specific relevance to those interested in the animal, crop, fish or forestry sectors or of general relevance to all sectors.

Before a given e-mail conference begins, all members of the Forum receive an e-mail message inviting them to join the conference and giving them information on the timing of the conference plus a background document written in "layman's language" on the topic to be discussed. 

Forum members who register for a given e-mail conference receive all e-mail messages from the conference, although they may unsubscribe whenever they wish, and they may submit messages (of no more than 600 words) to the discussion. After the conference, a document is prepared summarising the main issues that were discussed, based on the participants' messages, and sent to the Forum. From 2000 to 2012, a total of 70 e-mail messages have been sent to the Forum members - announcing upcoming conferences, providing them with outputs of past conferences etc.

Each conference has a Moderator who plays an active role in the conference ensuring that the messages posted are understandable and, often, providing additional information of benefit to participants (such as web links to additional information sources, references to scientific articles or explanations of technical terms used in the messages) as well as encouraging participants to adequately address all the topics to be discussed during a given conference.

Participation: From an analysis of the 15 conferences hosted from 2000 to 2008, the messages have come:
- roughly 50:50 from participants living in developing and developed countries respectively.
- From about 500 different people in about 80 different countries
- From all world regions: 24% Europe; 23% Asia ; 19% Africa; 18% North America; 9% Latin America and the Caribbean; and 6% Oceania.
- about 33% from people working in universities; 33% from national/international research institutes/organisations; 12% from NGOs; 9% from independent consultants; about 4% from government ministries/bodies; 3% private sector; 2% UN; 2% farmers organisations; 1% development agencies

Page last updated: 2 November 2012