Proceedings of the International Conference on Modern Biotechnologies: Sustainable Innovation and Regulatory Needs
September 13, 2013
THIRD WORLD NETWORK BIOSAFETY INFORMATION SERVICE
Dear Friends and Colleagues
Re: Proceedings of the International Conference on Modern Biotechnologies: Sustainable Innovation and Regulatory Needs
The International Conference on Modern Biotechnologies: Sustainable Innovation and Regulatory Needs took place in Penang, Malaysia, on 7-10 November 2012. It was co-organized by GenØk-Centre for Biosafety, Norway and Third World Network.
With the increasing development and use of modern biotechnologies in agriculture, public health and industrial applications, the strengthening of knowledge of and capacity on biosafety is becoming ever more crucial. In light of this urgent need, the Conference was held to build biosafety capacity at both scientific and policy/regulatory levels with a view to improving risk assessment, risk management and policy and regulation related to these technologies, especially in developing countries where resources and capacities are often low.
We are pleased to announce the publication of the proceedings of the Conference, which examines the key issues and main recommendations put forward, within the context of the need to shape scientific research and innovation on modern biotechnologies to prevent or minimize any adverse impacts and to advance the societal interest.
We reproduce below the Executive Summary, which together with the Conference Proceedings can be found at: http://www.biosafety-info.net/pubart.php?pid=77
With best wishes,
Third World Network
131 Jalan Macalister
Website: http://www.biosafety-info.net/ and http://www.twn.my/
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Reflections from the Organizers
As the developments in modern biotechnology gather pace, so do the challenges for risk assessment, risk management, and policy and regulation related to these technologies. The presentations at the International Conference on Modern Biotechnologies: Sustainable Innovation and Regulatory Needs acknowledged the need to continuously reflect on, update and improve these critical aspects of biosafety, especially given new and emerging applications in diverse fields such as vaccines, insects and microorganisms. It is evident that capacity building and knowledge sharing can play important roles in improving biosafety in all countries, in particular in developing countries.
The issue of sustainability in innovations is also crucial, as the biosafety science and regulatory community needs to collectively take a longer-term and more holistic approach to modern biotechnology development and assessment. Understanding the drivers of research and development, including the current intellectual property system, and re-orienting research and development towards meeting public needs, are important factors to move towards meeting sustainability and public interest goals.
In addition, the presentations at the Conference, in highlighting uncertainties and gaps in scientific knowledge, effectively called for a humbler approach towards science and scientific research, particularly in regard to modern biotechnology. Recognizing the limitations and applying a precautionary approach will help us address the gaps in our scientific knowledge, respect the importance of including traditional knowledge, as well as broaden our options and perspectives. Areas of omitted research should be taken seriously and attention to these gaps can help improve our understanding, assessment and management of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Finally, discussing GMOs and modern biotechnology within the wider context of sustainable innovation and sustainable development is absolutely necessary. We believe this should go hand-in-hand with employing a participatory and bottom-up approach towards modern biotechnology and its applications. When these steps are taken, and the full range of alternative options and innovation pathways assessed against a benchmark of meeting needs and for the public good, the choices will become clearer for us all.