Workshop 5. Access to Crop Biotech Innovations: Exchange and Learnings from GM Cultivation in the EU, South Asia, and Africa
Organizers: Sarah Davidson Evanega, Cornell Alliance for Science; Coen Frederiks and Petra Kostolaniova, The European Association for Bio-Industries (EuropaBio)

All over the world, farmers are facing challenges such as pests, pathogens, diseases, drought and low soil fertility. Modern biotechnology plays an important role in managing these challenges, and with over 18 million farmers worldwide currently grow genetically modified (GM) crops.

This workshop, presented in three parts, provides the opportunity to exchange learnings from GM cultivation in Europe, South Asia and Africa.  First, we will hear about the experience of a Spanish farmer, who cultivates Bt maize in one of the few places where GM crops are commercially produced in the EU.  We will also learn from other professionals within the sector who will contribute by reflecting on the European policy on GMOs.

The second part of the workshop will focus on Africa and South Asia, where there exist stark contrasts between farmers who have and who have not had access to biotech crops. Public sector research organizations have contributed to the development of new biotechnology products uniquely positioned to serve local farmers, such as eggplant in Asia; and cooking bananas and cowpea in Africa.  Here we feature three farmers who are dealing first-hand with the constraints and challenges of agriculture in a rapidly changing climate, including farmers who have reaped the benefits of biotechnology and those who are still clamoring for access. This session allows us to hear directly from farmers who arguably stand to gain the most from these life-improving technologies, but whose voices are too often unheard and unheeded in the global discussions.

In the third and final part of the workshop we will engage in a thoughtful conversation about perceptions in Africa about farming in Europe and vice versa.  With panelists representing the EU and sub-Saharan Africa and including the workshop participants, we shall seek to find constructive ways of changing perceptions in the EU and Africa about the EU’s rejection of GMOs and its political influence across Africa.
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