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All of you who are involved in the research in biotechnology are often disappointed that the information and perception of this field in public is far from being adequate. Unfortunately, legal regulations of biotechnology are in certain cases based on scientifically not quite credible grounds.

Thus, we are convinced that you will find following two initiatives interesting.

In hurry:

17 to 19 March 2005 to be held at
BOKU - University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria
http://www.boku.ac.at/ica/GMO.htm

BACKGROUND

The public is daily confronted by news of advances of science. However, such advances are not always perceived as being beneficial by all sectors of society. Some sectors may be particularly vocal in attempting to influence public opinion, mainly in emphasising either the pros or cons of such advances. The introduction of transgenic crops, popularly called genetically modified organisms (GMOs), provides us with an opportunity to examine the issues involved in shaping the public's perceptions. Such a study will assist scientists and policy makers in understanding how advances made by science can most effectively be presented to society as a whole, in ways that support responsible public discourse and decision making.

AIMS

The workshop aims to assess the current basis for the society's perceptions of the value of GMOs to the public, taking account of the opportunities and threats posed by their introduction. Thus the workshop will highlight the challenge in taking the issue of the introduction of GMOs to society at large on a global basis, with special consideration of the position in Europe and the US . The approach to regulation will be evaluated as a means for gaining the public's confidence in the introduction of GMOs. At the same time the Workshop will examine how society can be better informed about the regulation process so as to have confidence in newly introduced products. Taking account of these discussions, the Workshop will assess how higher education should address the introduction of GMOs in their degree programmes.

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The other represents longer and broader perspective:

"Public Research &Regulation" aims to offer a forum for the public research sector to be involved in the Meetings of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and related meetings

Phase 2 of this initiative will - subject to the availability of sufficient funds - provide an opportunity to public sector scientists to participate in the second Meeting of the Parties to the Biosafety Protocol (MOP2: May 30 - June 3, Montreal, Canada). To ensure that scientists can make optimal use of participation in MOP2, an introductory seminar will be held on 3-4 March, at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, St-Louis, USA. Details can be found in the attached information paper. 

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