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2-3 September, Harvard University, Cambridge, USA

Summary report:   HTML ball.gif (204 bytes) TEXT ball.gif (204 bytes) PDF

Photo and RealAudio highlights

The International Conference on Biotechnology in the Global Economy took place at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, from 2-3 September 1999.The conference, organized and hosted by the Center for International Development (CID) and the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University, attracted over 200 participants from academic institutions, civil society, industry, government departments and international organizations, including the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development, UNCTAD, FAO and GEF. The conference aimed to broaden the debate on biotechnology beyond the narrow confines of the biosafety question and foster dialogue between researchers, entrepreneurs, political leaders, policy makers and practitioners.

See below to listen to opening speeches, keynote addresses and closing remarks.

Conference participants met in nine parallel sessions to discuss: evolution of the biotechnology industry; biotechnology in international trade; intellectual property rights in biotechnology; biotechnology and international relations; bioprospecting; biotechnology in developing countries; environmental aspects of biotechnology; biotechnology and human health; and ethics, social values and biotechnology.
Click here to see photos from the parallel sessions

Calestous Juma, Special Advisor to the Center for International Development, will prepare a brief summary of the discussions focussed on "solutions" rather than concerns. The summary as well as other outcomes of the discussions are expected to feed into research agendas, policy discussions, and training and educational material on biotechnology and public policy. A special task-force is expected to be set up to help address, inter alia, research and training issues in the field of biotechnology.
Click here to listen to interviews with Jeffrey Sachs, Harvard University, Cristian Samper, SBSTA Chair, and Alexander Golikov, Russian Academy of Sciences

Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director, Center for International Development, Harvard University, greets conference participants


Opening Event: "Science and Economy in the New Millennium"


Calestous Juma (left), Special Advisor, Center for International Development, Harvard University, introduces the speakers

David Sandalow, White House Council on Environmental Quality/National Security Council, said the conference should address seven questions, including: what are the benefits and risks of biotechnology; how should governments regulate the technology; what international mechanisms can best help manage the technology; how should private and public sector roles be balanced; and how can public discourse be improved on the topic of biotechnology?


Professor Peter Raven, Missouri Botanical Garden, said the Convention on Biological Diversity should be concerned with biodiversity conservation, biospheric sustainability and wealth sharing rather than trade battles over genetically modified crops, and said the 1990s "hype" regarding genetic modification and transgenics has not understood that genetically modified crops are biologically similar to any other kind of crop. He lamented not more was being done to promote sustainable agriculture. In his concluding remarks, he stressed the need for better communication, institutional and societal modalities, increased consultation between various interested groups, and social institutions to deal with the pace of scientific advances.

Dinner Address: "Science, Technology and International Development"

Professor Mohamed Hassan, Third World Academy of Science, Mohamed Hassan, Third World Academy of Sciences, based his dinner address on his experiences in trying to promote scientific and technological advancement in developing countries. Hassan referred to growing disparities in scientific development between developed and developing nations as one of the major challenges currently being faced.

Plenary Session and Keynote Address: "Biotechnology in the Global Economy"

In his keynote address, Professor Jeffrey Sachs offered some concrete proposals for conference participants to consider, including: ensuring donor support to the private sector-university nexus in biotechnology research; expanding private multinational local centers of scientific excellence to the tropics; convening more roundtables on biotechnology between political and business leaders; providing incentives to expatriate developing country scientists to pursue biotechnology-related work in their own countries; convening more roundtables on biotechnology between political and business leaders; and creating a task force on biotechnology as an outcome of this conference.
The United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development met in parallel to the conference, from 2-4 September.

In his keynote address, Stefan Moraveck, Chair of the Commission, said the Commission had addressed critical issues on biotechnology for food production not being addressed in other fora and proposed recommendations, including: undertaking research on IPRs in developing countries; supporting networks between public and private sectors; building endogenous capacity by providing incentives and, in collaboration with the World Bank, seeking to strengthen biotechnology research capabilities in developing countries; and identifying strategic areas and establishing centers of excellence in developing countries and ways of promoting investment by the private sector in these countries.

Closing Session: "The Way Ahead"

In his closing remarks, Calestous Juma shared some of his impressions of the conference and identified challenges in organizing this important meeting. He said he will produce a final report and discussed the creation of a task force on biotechnology and follow up conferences.

Conference participants attend a reception

For more information on future events, contact: Calestous Juma, Harvard University
Tel: +1 (617) 496-0433; E-mail:Calestous_Juma/FS/[email protected]

Center for International Development

bullet CID homepage bullet Abstracts and Viewpoints
bullet CID events bullet Chair's Summary
bullet International Conference on Biotechnology in the Global Economy homepage bullet Conference Report

Other biotechnology-related sites

bullet CBD Secretariat web site

bullet ENB coverage of BSWG-6, Cartagena, February 1999

bullet Linkages biodiversity page

bullet ENB coverage of BSWG-5, Montreal, August 1998

bullet Links to other Biotechnology-related sites

bullet ENB coverage of SBSTA-4, Montreal, June 1999

bullet ENB coverage of CBD COP-4, Bratislava, May 1998


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