Panel debate Nordic Organic Food Fair


Beyond GM, an independent initiative set up to raise awareness of issues around genetic engineering in food and farming, hosted a panel debate about the future of organic GMOs at the Nordic Organic Food Fair 14 November in Malmö, Sweden. In the panel were 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.

Photos: Beyond GM

The hour-long panel session discussed whether organic GMO’s really have a role to play in the future of organic food and sustainable farming. 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. Would farmers and the public ever accept such a change? What does it mean for the definition of organic? What are the implications for the USPs of organic brands?