SG-Activity: Revolutionary Trends in Biotechnology and the Social Debate: Trends

Biotechnology developed from a new kid on the block to a mainstream technology and is now integrated in a lot of other research fields and appliances. It became an enabling technology as an essential tool in the whole spectrum of life-sciences and contributing to solutions for a diverse range of societal problems/challenges. Resulting in an explosion of new techniques and products this last decade. But how to stay on grip with these revolutionary developments? How disruptive are these new tools and how to avoid sterile pro-contra discussions?
Speaker: Volkert Beekman.

The developments in biotechnologies are going fast, even if you only focus on plants and animals. The importance of biotechnology is still growing and at the same time the increasing technical possibilities raise important ethical and societal questions. What if the distinction between products of genetic modification, classical breeding and native organisms becomes blurred through the use of CRISPR-CAS? How to judge sprays which are able to turn off certain genes in a crop on the field? What is synthetic biology coming up with and what will be the public opinion about that?

Volkert Beekman  is a sociologist and philosopher working as social innovation programme developer at LEI – Wageningen UR on conceptualising and facilitating multi-stakeholder social innovation processes around novel (bio)technologies in agriculture and food production. He is also member of the Subcommittee Ethics and Societal Aspects of COGEM. COGEM provides scientific advice to the government on the risks to human health and the environment of the production and use of GMOs and informs the government on ethical and societal issues linked to genetic modification.