From 17.30-20.00
Venue: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)
Campus Etterbeek (Auditorium Q)
Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussel

Seminar – “The role of modern biotechnology in the production of our food”

27 September 2017, 17.30 – 20.00, Auditorium Qc, Free University of Brussels, Pleinlaan 2, Brussels.


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 will host on 28 September 2017 the high-level conference “Modern Biotechnologies in Agriculture – Paving the way for responsible innovation”. The aim of the conference is “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 will also attend 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 will organise 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 will start with the documentary “Food Evolution”, directed by Academy Award- nominee Scott Hamilton Kennedy, and narrated by science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson. As the documentary website announces: “FOOD EVOLUTION is set amidst a brutally polarized debate marked by fear, distrust and confusion: the controversy surrounding GMOs and food. Traveling from Hawaiian papaya groves, to banana farms in Uganda to the cornfields of Iowa, FOOD EVOLUTION wrestles with the emotions and the evidence driving one of the most heated arguments of our time”.

The seminar language will be English, but questions can be asked in Dutch or French.


17.30:    Welcome and opening

17.40:    Documentary “Food Evolution”

18.45:   Debate  

20.00:   Closure and reception

Entry: Admission is free of charge and open to anyone on a first come first serve basis. The theater holds a maximum of 300 people.

For more information, please see the VUB website.