International Symposium on Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms

The ISBGMO is a unique opportunity for scientists from across the globe to share experiences and engage in open and meaningful dialogue about biosafety.

Participants include scientists involved in biosafety research and policy, including regulatory authorities, technology developers, academics, non-government organizations, and other credible stakeholders.


Under this biosafety theme, presentations and posters in the sessions, mini-symposia, and workshops will address timely topics surrounding biosafety. The main topics for the five plenary sessions have been identified :

GM crops in context
Current regulatory challenges
Defining environmental harm: concepts and applications for environmental risk assessment and regulatory decision-making
Biotechnology and crop improvement in development in developing countries: opportunities and challenges
New applications of modern biotechnology in agriculture and future implications
Mini-symposium and workshop topics will be identified soon.
Click on the ‘Program’ tab to see the latest details of the biosafety topics under discussion in this year’s program.

The ISBGMO is a bienniel international meeting organized by the International Society for Biosafety Research (ISBR), a society whose membership is composed of individuals with an interest in risk assessment and research related to the environmental risks associated with genetically modified organisms (

The ISBGMOs have been offered on a biennial basis since 1990, at various locations throughout the world, including most recently in Argentina (2010), New Zealand (2008), South Korea (2006), France (2004), China(2002), and Canada (2000). The 2012 symposium in St. Louis will be the first time it has been offered in the US since it was held in Monterey, CA in 1994.

The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, whose mission and goals are closely tied to the theme of ISBGMO12, is the local host for this symposium. The Danforth Center is a not-for-profit research institute, where scientists engage in research that strives to enhance the nutritional content of plants, increase agricultural production to create a sustainable food supply, reduce the use of pesticides and fertilizer, develop new and sustainable biofuels, and generate scientific ideas and technologies that will contribute to the economic growth of the St. Louis region.To further the goals of enhanced nutritional content and increased agricultural production, research is channeled through the Center’s Office of International Programs (OIP). Through partnerships in Africa, Asia and Latin America, the OIP pursues a worldwide collaborative research approach to develop novel varieties that can improve the lives of subsistence farmers in developing countries. (
+ show speakers and program
Keynote Speaker: Robert Paarlberg, Wellesley College, USA
Authority on the impact of GM crops in developing countries

Keynote Speaker: Sylvester O. Oikeh, African Agriculture Technology Foundation (AATF)
Soil fertility agronomist and specialist in plant nutrition

Keynote Speaker: Alan Gray, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, UK
Researcher into biosafety for GMOs

Keynote Speaker: Peter H. Raven, Washington University, St. Louis
Specialist in plant classification, evolution, and conservation

Robert Paarlberg, Wellesley College, USA

12th ISBGMO Key Speaker

Robert Paarlberg is the B.F. Johnson Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College and Adjunct Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. His principal research interests are international food and agricultural and policy. He has been a member of the Board of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the National Research Council of the National Academies, and a consultant to USAID, IFPRI, COMESA, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the World Bank. His 2008 book, Starved for Science: How Biotechnology Is Being Kept Out of Africa, from Harvard University Press, explained why poor African farmers are denied access to productive technologies. His 2010 book, from Oxford University Press, is titled Food Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know. He is currently completing a study of U.S. agricultural development assistance policy for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and writing a book on the politics of overconsumption. Robert Paarlberg received his B.A. from Carleton College and his PhD in Government from Harvard University.

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Sylvester O. Oikeh, African Agriculture Technology Foundation (AATF)

12th ISBGMO Key Speaker

Dr Sylvester O. Oikeh has more than 26 years of interdisciplinary experience in research and development projects on natural resources, crop management, and plant nutrition. He joined AATF in February 2009 as a Project Manager for the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project. In this role, he coordinates the operational management and monitors the implementation of activities in the five project countries.

Prior to joining AATF, he worked for the Africa Rice Centre (formerly WARDA) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). From 2001–2002, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA, where he established for the first time, the link between enhanced iron and zinc in maize grains with improvement in human nutrition using an in vitro technique (model gut-system).

Dr Oikeh attained his doctorate in Soil Science specializing in Soil Fertility and Plant Nutrition from the Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria, in 1996. He obtained a Masters degree in Vegetable Crop Science from the University of Nigeria, Nssuka in 1989. Dr Oikeh holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Irrigation Engineering from the Centre for Irrigation Engineering at the Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven, Belgium. Dr Oikeh has authored 56 publications in major scientific journals, proceedings, book chapters, books and monographs. Sylvester is a Nigerian.

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Alan Gray, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, UK

12th ISBGMO Key Speaker

Alan Gray is a Research Fellow with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, U.K. He retired in 2003 as Director of CEH’s Dorset laboratory, following more than 35 years’ research in plant ecology and genetics, and over 200 publications – mainly on population ecology, gene flow, conservation genetics and the environmental impact of major construction schemes.

Alan has been involved in risk assessment for GMOs since 1990 undertaking research and providing independent advice to the U.K. government. He was, first, a member (1994-99) and then Chairman (1999-2003) of ACRE (the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment) – the U.K.’s statutory advisory science committee on GMO releases. Since retirement he has continued his interest in the biosafety of GM crops, and has recently completed, with a co-author, a Flora of British Grasses. In recent years he has taken part by invitation in GM biosafety workshops in Argentina, S.Africa, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Italy, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Slovenia, Switzerland, Ukraine, Uganda, USA and Vietnam.

Alan has a B.A. in Biology and Philosophy and a PhD in Genetics from the University of Keele and has been a Visiting Professor at the Universities of Southampton, Bournemouth, Groningen and Stockholm. He remains involved in science governance, peer audit and the running of learned societies.

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Peter H. Raven, Washington University, St. Louis

16 Sep - 20 Sep 2012

St. Louis
United States of America
meeting website