The intention of genetic transformation of plants in the early 1980s (Van Montagu and Schell, University of Ghent) has resulted in one of the fastest adopted new technologies in the history of agriculture. The use of these new techniques is also subject to intense public debate on the benefits of and concerns about applying modern biotechnology in food production. That debate has in fact intensified over the years, especially in Europe.

The European Commission hosted on 28 September 2017 the high-level conference “Modern Biotechnologies in Agriculture – Paving the way for responsible innovation”. The aim of the conference was “to stimulate an informed and open debate among all stakeholders on how the EU can benefit from modern biotechnologies and innovation in the food and agricultural sector while maintaining high safety standards”. Academics from various Belgian and other European Universities attended this conference.

As one of the activities of Biotech Week 2017, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), in collaboration with the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and the Ghent University organised on 27 September 2017 a debate among scholars and students on the role of modern biotechnology in the production of our food, and the role of universities in this context.

The seminar started with the documentary “Food Evolution”, directed by Academy Award- nominee Scott Hamilton Kennedy, and narrated by science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson and was followed by a debate.

For more information and videos from the various movie screenings that took place in Brussels during Biotech Week, please see our dedicated webpage.