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Thursday, January 30, 2003

The European Commission and European Group on Life Sciences (EGLS) are currently holding a conference on the role of the life sciences and biotechnologies in achieving sustainable agriculture in developing countries.

The conference was set up in response to the need to increase crop yields in a sustainable way to feed the world's growing population. It aims to "critically review the options that life sciences and biotechnology offer to developing countries" by providing a platform for debate among stakeholders.

The programme is centred on seven key questions or "challenges". The topics seem well chosen, but only 20 minutes have been allowed for open discussion on each one, with another two hours for a core debate among 8 selected panellists at the end. Only two of the panellists are actually from developing countries (see links in programme page for biographies).

There is a clear need for debate on this subject - it will be interesting to see if this platform proves fruitful, given the limited time allowed for actual discussion. You can watch the conference live, or view contributions to a forum held on the website since October 2002.