Nordic Organic Food Fair 2019 to Host Organic GMO Debate
Beyond GM, an independent initiative set up to raise awareness of issues around genetic engineering in food and farming, will host a panel debate about the future of organic GMOs (genetically modified organisms) at next week’s Nordic Organic Food Fair, which will take place between November 13-14 in Sweden.
The panel will bring together experts including Dr. Odd-Gunnar Wikmark (scientist/program coordinator at GenØk Centre for Biosafety Norway), Dr. Stefan Jansson (professor and head of the department of Plant Physiology at Umeå University, Sweden) and facilitators Lawrence Woodward, and Pat Thomas from Beyond GM, in an interactive discussion on whether organic GMO’s really have a role to play in the future of organic food and sustainable farming.
“The Nordic Organic Food Fair has recognized that this is an issue with potentially serious and complex implications for organic brands and certification bodies. It’s fantastic that space is being given to explore it from different perspectives,” says Pat Thomas, director, Beyond GM.
This hour-long panel session is both timely and necessary and will bring to light a topical discussion that is going on right now in the organic sector. It will look at the science but also the philosophical issues and explore claims that new gene-editing techniques are so close to natural plant breeding that excluding them is irrational.
In Norway and Denmark – as in much of Europe – there are now calls from the biotechnology industry and researchers for the products of new gene-editing techniques such as CRISPR, to be exempt from regulation in order to help farming meet sustainability goals. At the same time, a growing number of people feel that doing so brings inevitable questions about food safety and transparency – as well as potential risks to the organic market.