(Henk Hobbelink, GRAIN)
Amila de Saram Larssen
The meeting room was filled to capacity, leaving no doubt that the debate over the risks and benefits of GMOs is still raging, especially in Norway.
While several interesting perspectives on GMOs were presented, the seminar was dominated by voices critical of GMOs. Gunn Opsahl Sorteberg, professor of genetics and plant biology at the University of Agriculture, Ås, offered the sole pro-GMO perspective.
Henk Hobbelink, Coordinator of GRAIN, an international NGO promoting the sustainable management and use of agricultural biodiversity, was the featured speaker and presented a brief history of GMOs. He also assessed the promises made by proponents of the “GMO Revolution” twenty years ago, promises of increased food security and sustainability.
Hobbelink pointed out that 5 large corporations dominate the market, producing a narrow range of GM crops that can be cultivated in only few countries. Also, just two traits have been developed, herbicide tolerance and insect resistance. He concluded that the promises of the GM Crop Revolution remain unfullfilled.
Opsahl Sorteberg agreed that GMOs were not “the” answer to mitigating climate change or the food crisis, but argued that it might offer some part of the solution. According to her, the GMO debate has become so politicized that it is no longer based on science and facts.
Casper Linnestad, Senior Advisor, the Norwegian Biotechnology Advisory Board outlined the guidelines Norway uses to assess new GMO applications and David Quist, Researcher at Genøk and visiting scientist at University of California, Berkeley presented a short commentary on the need to see GMOs not as a product or an ideology, but rather as a technical system. He also pointed out the hypocracy of countries such as Norway, that deem it unsafe to import GMO technology into the country, but advocate its use in other parts of the world.
Henk Hobbelink's presentation: Download henk_hobbelink.ppt
Gunn Opsahl Sorteberg's presentation: Download Hilde-gunn_Ppt0000001.pptx
Casper Linnestad's presentation: Download casper_linnestad_utviklingsfondet_norad_250908.pptm
David Quist's presentation: Download David_norad_25sept08_quist_v2.pptm