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PP Forum: Techniques for engaging the public

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Theme 1: Public debates [#5784]
Dear participants,

Welcome to Theme 1: Public debates

Best regards,
Ulrika Nilsson
Associate Information Officer
Biosafety Unit
Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity
United Nations Environment Programme
413 St Jacques Street, Suite 800,
Montréal, Québec, Canada H2Y 1N9
Tel: +1-514-287-8720
Email: ulrika.nilsson@cbd.int
Internet: http://bch.cbd.int/protocol/
posted on 2014-04-23 00:49 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5794]
POSTED ON BEHALF OF JOHANSEN T. VOKER (MODERATOR)

Dear Forum Participants,

I am pleased and honoured to have been invited to moderate this online discussion.

Welcome to Theme 1 on Public debates.

I welcome you to answer the guiding questions listed below when the Forum begins 28 April.

1. What are the primary means through which public debate is taking place (e.g. TV, radio, print)? Should the costs be covered by the government or the media?

2. How are the public debates being conducted (e.g. moderated, pre-selected questions)? Is it sufficient?

3. In your experience, what should the criteria be to select participants/panelists for a balanced public debate (e.g. selecting government officials, NGOs, private sector)?

4. In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should a public debate take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)? Are these on general or specific issues?

5. In what way are the main points from speeches and public comments reflected in public debates possibly integrated into outcomes of final decisions? Are the methods and reasons made public?

The discussion will take place for the two weeks and I encourage you to prepare the answers to the questions and post your views as soon as possible in order to foster a lively debate.

Please note that participants must first sign in to the BCH in order to post messages.

Individuals wishing to participate via e-mail after these initial messages can choose to 'watch' the discussions taking place under the different themes. These individuals will then receive copies of the posted messages by e-mail.

If you have any questions or if you encounter difficulties in accessing the discussion sessions or posting your messages, please send an e-mail to: ulrika.nilsson@cbd.int or andrew.bowers@cbd.int

I look forward to reading your suggestions and comments.

Best regards,

Johansen T. Voker
Moderator
posted on 2014-04-24 15:16 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5800]
Dear Johansen,
I welcome you a moderator for the PAEP. Regarding the theme #1 for the public debate, I am pleased to provide my comments as follows based on order of question.


1. What are the primary means through which public debate is taking place (e.g. TV, radio, print)? Should the costs be covered by the government or the media?
I believe primary means through which public debate is taking place are informal discussions schools, universities, public forum, meetings, and other social gatherings. For specific topics like Biosafety or risk to human health, they are often done at TV discussion, radio live talk to provide best needed information for the public. This cost for this activity can be covered by the government or NGOs or other forms of a groups that value the importance of the discussion.

2. How are the public debates being conducted (e.g. moderated, pre-selected questions)? Is it sufficient?

Preselected questions are often made so that experts and guests of the event can understand and can lead them to the right discussion as intended. Circulated questions can be modified among them.

3. In your experience, what should the criteria be to select participants/panelists for a balanced public debate (e.g. selecting government officials, NGOs, private sector)?

Criteria for selecting panelists: 1) select government ministries only to make sure government policies are directed to the people; 2) later stage can invite NGOs and civil society to participate. Often private sector is not so much interested unless there is interest.


4. In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should a public debate take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)? Are these on general or specific issues?

This is a particular LMOs or new one. If LMOs are already assessed in the other countries, the review and assessment can be done according to local law. Participation by civil society is welcome to provide comments. In Cambodia's law on biosafety allows public to provide comments on decision-making if to release LMOs for FFP or commercial release.


5. In what way are the main points from speeches and public comments reflected in public debates possibly integrated into outcomes of final decisions? Are the methods and reasons made public?


I think short and precise comments that represent interest of all can be added into the decision-making in the form of conditions to the firms. Methods: I think lobbying Decision-makers at highest level to mainstream comments into the final decision of the institution. In Cambodia, the National Steering Committee for Biosafety or another words, comments can be mainstreamed through Minister for Agriculture and Minister of Environment. Make you now the gate keeper.

That's all
Pisey Oum, Cambodia
posted on 2014-04-28 04:27 UTC by Mr. Meng Monyrak, Cambodia
Public debates: Considerations from Colombia [#5807]
Greetings for everybody. First, in behalf of Colombia I would like thanks to CDB Secretary for the opportunity to participate in this important Forum, which I’m sure will enhance the capability of countries for implementing the Cartagena Protocol. On other hand, I like to express congratulations to Dr. Voker for the Forum moderation.    

Theme 1: Public debates

1. What are the primary means through which public debate is taking place (e.g. TV, radio, print)? Should the costs be covered by the government or the media?

Nowadays the debate in Colombia regarding LMOs is being approached mainly from two ways: On one side the government debate, which is focused to academic and research circles and their costs are covered by National Competent Authorities. One other hand there is a social movement through Social Networks. In both cases, it is rare to find discussions through mass media and topics about LMOs in the country don’t have reached a wide public interest. 

2. How are the public debates being conducted (e.g. moderated, pre-selected questions)? Is it sufficient?

The public debates in research and academic are generally through enhanced by seminars, workshops, conferences and class debates. In this cases, the debate is not enough because the socio economic considerations are not included, focusing in scientific and technical issues. Contrary, the debate from civil society through publications and Social Nertworks, prioritize socio economical topics more than scientific or technical topics.

3. In your experience, what should the criteria be to select participants/panelists for a balanced public debate (e.g. selecting government officials, NGOs, private sector)?

For CBD implementing (and of course the Cartagena Protocol context), the participants for an international public debate may be chosen by the National Focal Point and National Competent Authorities, and can be from different levels of stakeholders, including academic, researchers, policy makers, and representatives of civil society (communities and NGOs), trying to guarantee the participation of a representative number of relevant stakeholders. It is recommended that participants and panelist be chosen under the criteria of level of expertise, objectivity, knowledge and recognition.

4. In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should a public debate take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)?

Regarding decision-making process on LMOs, a public debate should be permanently in each stage of the process, considering differential stakeholders and methodologies for that, due to this process includes multi-thematic issues (scientific, technical, social, economic, cultural, etc.), and interested public may be not the same if each stage.

5. In what way are the main points from speeches and public comments reflected in public debates possibly integrated into outcomes of final decisions? Are the methods and reasons made public?

In Colombia in the process of decisions making that may affect the environment or biodiversity or lead to negative socio economic impacts, is mandatory to do public consultation aimed to citizenship broad way. In the final decision, among all considerations presented by different stakeholders, are taken into account those that are relevant and appropriate, only if them have solid argumentation that support and, where appropriate, evidence to justify them.
posted on 2014-04-28 16:39 UTC by Ms. Claudia María Villa, Instituto Alexander von Humboldt
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5933]
Posted on behalf of Monika Singh, India:

Theme 1: Public debates

Greetings to all.

I am Monika Singh, working as Scientist at National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources, New Delhi (India) and presently engaged in the area of LMO detection.

My thoughts for the questions below are as follows:

• What are the primary means through which public debate is taking place (e.g. TV, radio, print)? Should the costs be covered by the government or the media?
The primary means through which public debate is taking place are the media, like TV, magazines along with the social networking sites like twitter, online resources or related webpages. The initiatives and awareness programs such as DNA clubs, Eco-clubs, for engaging students and scholars at school or college level may be one of the good means to sensitize them at an early stage.
Costs may be partly covered by government or non-government organisations (NGOs) or media.

• How are the public debates being conducted (e.g. moderated, pre-selected questions)? Is it sufficient?
Public debates may be conducted through a pre-selected questions that may be finalized by group of experts or panelists.

• In your experience, what should the criteria be to select participants/panelists for a balanced public debate (e.g. selecting government officials, NGOs, private sector)?
In my opinion, criteria for selecting participants/panelists for a balanced public debate would be engagement of the government officials, NGOs or private sector having expertise in this area, personnel from different Ministries concerned with subject, active and interested researchers and scholars who are keen to gain and share knowledge on different aspects of LMOs.

• In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should a public debate take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)? Are these on general or specific issues?
Public debate and opinion may be required right from the initial stages of development or import of LMOs to the development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and till a final decision is made.

These may be on specific issues, mainly on the impact of LMOs on biodiversity, health and environment. Whether they are affecting food and supply chain?, this needs to be addressed properly and instead of myths, facts need to be distributed among the public, especially in the developing countries. The awareness on the potential of LMOs needs to be communicated to public in an appropriate manner.

• In what way are the main points from speeches and public comments reflected in public debates possibly integrated into outcomes of final decisions? Are the methods and reasons made public?
As earlier mentioned, involvement of public opinion may be integrated right from the entry of an LMO to the final decisions. The awareness may be public but the methods and reasons may not be made public.
posted on 2014-05-08 13:41 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#6037]
Dear All,

My views on the Public debates as per the questionnaire are as follows

1) The primary means of the public debate is by television  and the cost should be bared by the media since they are indirectly getting benefited by the telecast rating.

2)The Public debates are being conducted on the pre selected questions and the questions raised at the time of debate and it is not sufficient as no conclusion is finalised in the debate.

3) As per my opinion the debate should be between the end user and the Promoter/Expertise.

4)A public debate should be made during the trails of technology transfer and should be on specific issues.

5)The main points from the speeches reflects directly on decisions and no they are not made public and neither should be.
posted on 2014-05-16 14:18 UTC by KARIPALLI AGNES RAJU, EXPORT INSPECTION AGENCY-KOLKATA (Ministry of Commerce and Industry , Govt.of India)
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5808]
I am from Saint Lucia in the Eastern Caribbean and am happy to be participating in this discussion.

Debate is taking place mainly through television and radio discussions.  The costs should be covered by both government and media.

The public  debates are usually moderated through panel discussions.  That seems to be OK.

The panellists should be experts in their field who have some knowledge of GMOs and biosafety.

Public debate should take place through all of the above. They should be on both general and specific issues.

The general approach is to consider the overriding view of the public in decision making. The methods and reasons are not made public.
posted on 2014-04-28 21:43 UTC by Ms. Anita James, Saint Lucia
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5809]
Dear Voker, Dear All,

First I would like to thank Voker for his moderation of the forum.

As regard to the guiding questions, I propose the below comments based on the existed practice on Public debates in my country Moldova. I hope it can be useful for the document we are working with now.

1. What are the primary means through which public debate is taking place (e.g. TV, radio, print)? Should the costs be covered by the government or the media?

- The public debate on LMOs should be taken in various modes.  TV is the most efficient mean that can cover the whole territory of the country and be viewed by large number of population. The radio emission can be also efficient to inform public.
- Public hearings may be organized in small or large face to face meetings, round tables, press conferences that can be efficient to get together different groups of consumers, local public, farmers, academia, universities, private sector, medical people, NGOs etc., that can provide better understanding of the topic discussed, questions/answers and feedback.
- The on-line national forums may also be useful for debating among public, young people, NGOs, academia, universities etc.
- The costs for the debates should/may be covered by the government, media, NGOs, private sector, notifier, local government.

2. How are the public debates being conducted (e.g. moderated, pre-selected questions)? Is it sufficient?
- The public debates may be conducted by moderating, with participation of governmental officials, professionals, academia people.
- The questionnaire and pre-selected questions might be a very useful tool to be used during debates.
- Invitation of scientists and professionals who may answer and explain specific questions during the debates may be useful.
- Via website the informative printed materials and resumes of notification and risk assessment report should be disseminated and available before the time of debates.
- A register of interested public, maintaining by National Biosafety Authority should be established that may involve all categories of public, such as targeted/registered NGOs, academia, universities, medical professionals, education sector, farmers and farmer’s associations, students, consumer associations, women associations.
- A register of NGOs may also be useful to disseminate information about the submitted notification, public debates and decision making on LMOs. The information on the discussed topic during the public debates may be pushed via the group of e-mails of the targeted/registered NGOs.
- The National BCH mechanism and the website should be the main platform for information and public debates, using the feedback technical options during the decision making process.

3. In your experience, what should the criteria be to select participants/panelists for a balanced public debate (e.g. selecting government officials, NGOs, private sector)?
- The criteria of selection of participants should be based on the principle of equality of representation for different categories of stakeholders/public. It also may be taken in consideration the representativeness of territories/districts balance. Depending of the form of debating, the participant’s number may be unlimited/accessible for all people (TV, Radio). At the same time the debates organized for specific groups (academia, mass media, NGOs, private sector etc.) may involve balanced number of participants in the targeted sector.
- The national public hearings organized by the government should be based on the criteria of representativeness balance of government, non-government sector, academia, private business, farmers, civil society etc.

4. In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should a public debate take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)? Are these on general or specific issues?
- In my view the public debate should be organized at all points of the decision making, including the development of regulation on biosafety, during the examination of notifications before making decision on an import/field trial of LMOs.
- Public also should be informed and debates can be organized after making decision, during the monitoring of LMO use/growing in the environment, when specific risks of LMOs can be identified, that were not been addressed during the risk assessment.

5. In what way are the main points from speeches and public comments reflected in public debates possibly integrated into outcomes of final decisions? Are the methods and reasons made public?
- The reports (in written) of public debates, reflecting general comments and conclusions should be submitted to the national authority by the deadline stipulated by the national regulation (30 days).
- The general comments and opinion paper of an NGO/group of NGOs, academia/individual etc. can be also submitted officially in written by post, via e-mail to the NCA, as well as via feedback option of the BCH website.
- A national regulation/guidelines of how the public opinion comments should/can be integrated/taken into consideration into final decision on LMOs.
- Only comments/ proposals contained reasons and arguments   evoking the economical risks, risks to the conservation of biodiversity, social risks, and human health considerations and eventual consequences may be considered during decision making

Best regards,
Angela Lozan
posted on 2014-04-29 06:45 UTC by Ms. Angela Lozan, Republic of Moldova
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5810]
Hi Angela and hello to all. I am Johansen Voker who is moderating this online forum. I wish to thank you all who have made comments  on the various themes including the Public debates.

I thank Angela for those questions( 3&4) she responded based on her experiences. I will like those who will provide comments on this theme to take note of where their personal experiences are required to  please base their responses on their experiences to benefit participants that have not had such experiences.

Regards,
Johansen T.Voker
Moderator
CPB National Focal Point/Liberia
posted on 2014-04-29 12:19 UTC by Mr. Johansen T. Voker, Liberia
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5851]
Greetings to all.

On theme 1 wanted to addition the following:

- I think it is necessary to differentiate the ought of what is actually happening.
- Must be first a study in public perception to determine what public priorities to lead a campaign. Accordingly, it is necessary to define which are the most efficient media, that is, who want to communicate why and how.
- You need to be assertive and not try to reach everyone in the same way, with the same message.
- Building up coverage of social networks, in addition to not involving associated costs.
posted on 2014-05-04 13:44 UTC by Ms. Claudia María Villa, Instituto Alexander von Humboldt
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5816]
Posted on behalf of Abisai Mafa, Zimbabwe

Dear Forum Participants,

It is a great honor to participate in this online from on public awareness and participation in biosafety. Since this is my first time to post, I would like to pay tribute to the secretariat for the excellent support documentation, and to congratulate my colleague Johnson for moderating.

Public debates take various forms and are undertaken under different circumstances by a plethora of actors with different kinds of motivations. I would like to categorize these debates into those that are of a general nature and those that are meant to trigger certain immediate actions. My responses to the guiding questions are therefore as follows:

1. What are the primary means through which public debate is taking place (e.g. TV, radio, print)? Should the costs be covered by the government or the media?  In Zimbabwe public debates take generally three forms: print and electronic media, workshops and conferences, and roundtables. The costs of such debates if they are of a general nature should be sponsored by the interested parties. However, those of a regulatory nature i.e. for purposes of decision making should preferably be borne by the applicant

2. How are the public debates being conducted (e.g. moderated, pre-selected questions)? Is it sufficient? Usually the sponsor/convener moderates. However, we have had debates moderated by experts or just neutral facilitators

3. In your experience, what should the criteria be to select participants/panelists for a balanced public debate (e.g. selecting government officials, NGOs, private sector)?  We aim to cover all stakeholders embracing state, non-state actors, the business community, the media, academia and the general public. We also aim to ensure representations of different view-points.

4. In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should a public debate take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)? Are these on general or specific issues? Debates should be structured to allow public input at all stages without causing cost escalation. In Zimbabwe we have had debates focused at creating awareness and identifying  potential issues. We also have had debates aimed at informing decision making. The later targeting specific  stakeholder groupings.

5. In what way are the main points from speeches and public comments reflected in public debates possibly integrated into outcomes of final decisions? Are the methods and reasons made public? Hard question.  Speeches point out intentions and not all intentions end up being public policy. Biosafety is cross cutting, therefore the views of one public figure do not necessarily end up as policy actions.
posted on 2014-04-29 16:57 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5817]
Posted on behalf of Nasrin Esmaeilzadeh, Iran (Islamic Republic of):

With Greeting to my colleagues,

First of all, I believe that public have to be educated and informed well enough about biosafety until they could participate in fruitful debates and discussions. Public education is a long process and needs to be started from primary schools.
TV and radio programs on biosafety could also help but it has to be made both at expert and simple level, suitable for educated and ordinary people especially farmers and villagers.

Belows are some of my suggestions:
• Government and Ministry of education have to add biosafety subject to text books.  
• Competent authorities provide simple bulletin, brochures, leaflets and posters to introduce biotechnology and biosafety in simple language and based on actual news and cases.
• NGOs and rural societies have to be active with financial support from government to inform farmers about modern biotechnology and biosafety.
• Sessions and seminars on biosafety perform by NGOs and Scientific societies.  
• TV and Radio interviews and programes prepare by government.
• All of the stakeholders participate actively in providing news, scientific articles and fact sheets on biosafety for National Biosafety Clearing House website.
posted on 2014-04-29 17:10 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5822]
this is very interesting forum to discuss the importance of Biosafety education in public but I would like to mention that scientists specially in the fields of Biology, medicine, lab workers and researchers also need to be educated they should teach and educate students about the biosafety regulations in the lab we have been very active in this filed last 10 years in preparing materials, books, journals, conferences, workshops and seminars to upgrade the skills and practicing biosafety regulations in the university , research institutes and laboratories and other stakeholders
posted on 2014-04-30 03:08 UTC by Prof Ali Karami, Baqyiatallah University of Medical Sciences
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5853]
Greetings to all.

I agree with the emphasis on education, however, is likely to be responsible for leading campaigns are not trained to do so it is advisable to start with strategies to strengthen national capacities.

Thank you very much.

Claudia Maria Villa
Humboldt Institute Colombia
posted on 2014-05-04 13:59 UTC by Ms. Claudia María Villa, Instituto Alexander von Humboldt
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5993]
My name is KAKPO Comlan Marcel.  I am the National Focal
Point of the Protocol of Cartagena and the BCH of the Republic of the
Benin.  Expert in Biosécurité and Directeur of the Benineese Center
Biodiversity, Ecotourisme and Seeds (BCBES-NGO). 

I thank all the initiators for this forum.  By this channel I inform you
that the Republic of Benin left the moratorium definitively since
March 11, 2013.  To this end, I request any support as well technical
as financial to work out the national law on the biosafety and to
implement the National Framework of Biosafety which was
elaborated and adopted since 2005. 
1.  The Republic of Benin being under moratorium during ten (10) years, the public discussion was dominated primarily by the anti GMO. Canal used as well
by the government as civil society  anti GMO are:  television,
radios, the conferences debates, workshops, seminars and newspapers.
For the activities organized by the government, the costs are covered
by him and those organized by NGO anti OGM by international NGO anti
GMO. 
2.  The debates are moderate.  Because the anti GMO behave as
only they are holders of the truth forgetting that science
evolves and that modern biotechnology is irreversible.  The
questions are generally preset on the problems of cultures OGM. These
debates with the present stage is insufficient because the producers,
the consumers and the private sector are badly and less informed on
the GMO. 
3.  From my point of view, for the public debates, all stakeholders (government, civil society, NGO, and private sector) must be represented so that each one expresses its ideas freely. 
4.  The debates or public meetings can be done directly in the local languages
but it remains a difficulty, namely the equivalent words in the local
languages as regards biotechnology and biosafety. 
5.  The public debates must how as of the notification of importation of the GMO.  It
is about a process and for each level it is necessary to found to make
it possible each recipient to form an opinion.
posted on 2014-05-11 18:42 UTC by Mr. Comlan Marcel KAKPO, Ministère de l'Environnement, de l'Habitat et de l'Urbanisme
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5820]
Hello everybody,
My name is Pedro Rocha, Coordinator of Area of Biotechnology and Biosafety at the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA). One of our main objectives in IICA is to support countries by carrying out activities relative to training and efficient communication of biotechnology and biosafety. So, IICA as international agency has been actively involved in development of Art. 23 (1a, 1b, and 3) in 34 countries of the American Hemisphere.
We have performed variety of conferences, seminars and workshops oriented to different target audiences: Regulators and government officials, media (journalists), academics, and public related to agri-sector.

ANswer to the proposed questions:

1. In general, for LAC countries, an active and basic public-debate on LMOs is taking place mainly through social networks based on Internet. If a particular issue acquires some relevance, the debate is usually presented by newspapers and radio. And if the issue is taking political relevance, TV is the primary means of public debate followed by radio means. I consider that governments could cover costs of communication strategies to inform people but should not cover costs for inducing specific debates.
2. Usually debates are conducted by a moderator (usually neutral) with participation of government officials, scientists, society representatives (frequently an environmentalist).
3. Panelists must be carefully selected based on the topics. For example, if a pure scientific issue is going to be debated, scientists must be in the arena. If the issue is about socioeconomic aspects, experts in economy, private sector and producers´ representatives must be selected. A big mistake is to believe that any expert in biotechnology can talk about any aspect related to biotech. For example, putting a scientist (biotechnologist) to debate about economic impacts of the technology having as a counterpart a non-scientific environmentalist is a mistake.
4. Public debate must be carried out in the development of regulatory frameworks, because is important to incorporate all possible points of view. For this point is important to incorporate general issues. The other useful point for consultation and debate could be prior making a decision on an import of an LMO. Here specific issues must be presented.
5. As a rule, scientific facts must be integrated into outcomes of the final decisions. Such scientific facts won´t be easily challenged in a debate. However, the economic and social points, usually based on opinions not in facts, are the subject of the debates and clear criteria must be established in order to integrate them into the final decision. Methods and reasons must be public (of course, except information explicitly required to be confidential).
posted on 2014-04-29 21:27 UTC by Dr. Pedro Rocha, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5827]
Hello PP Forum participants .

I like to thank Dr.  Pedro Rocha, Coordinator of Area of Biotechnology and Biosafety at the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) for the fine contribution to this conversation under the theme of Public Debates. On the question of criteria for selecting panelist, I agree that selection should be done on the basis of topic but often the discussion may look at different dimensions on a particular topic. In such case, panelist could be selected to bring their perspectives on different dimensions on a topic under consideration.

Regards,
Johansen Voker
Moderator for PP Forum
posted on 2014-04-30 14:35 UTC by Mr. Johansen T. Voker, Liberia
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5830]
Good morning everyone. Thanks to Pedro Rocha to have made a very clear approach about this point in discussion.

In our experience like a country we have seen that discussions that are held between representatives of various sources of thought (regulators, technical experts, business groups "pro" and critics groups) are the most times less productive than expected since the arguments tend to blend under dynamic aspects for compare situations that "are not comparable to each other"

We need to advance in these processes, so, is important establish mechanisms for facilitate the establishment of technical and scientific ethical limits, for that discussions are sustained, informed and responsive to national needs the are being promoted.
posted on 2014-04-30 17:29 UTC by Lic. Jeremias Ezequiel Yanes, El Salvador
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5836]
1. What are the primary means through which public debate is taking place (e.g. TV, radio, print)? Should the costs be covered by the government or the media?

In the case of Cuba, the public debate with regard to the LMOs, takes place basically in limited sectors with the representation of the NGOs involved in these topics, the biotechnological sector and a group of scientists and investigators who manifest their personal concerns faced with the possible risks. In these debates, the national competent authorities and professionals from the fields of Economy and Philosophy take participation and representatives from rural organizations as well. These debates take place fundamentally outside of the massive media; nevertheless, representatives from the industry and from the academy have gone to television programs debating about the advantages and risks of the LMOs.

2. How are the public debates being conducted (e.g. moderated, pre-selected questions)? Is it sufficient?

The debates are essentially carried out through workshops or seminars, with presentations of the industry, of an NGO representing the people and authorities. The socioeconomic topics are discussed but not in depth. The debate is rather centered in the most effective ways of involving the population into the process and how to let them get the main technical tools so that the process can be carried out with success.
.
3. In your experience, what should the criteria be to select participants/panelists for a balanced public debate (e.g. selecting government officials, NGOs, private sector)?
Concerning the international debate in the context of the protocol, we agreed with the criterion of Colombia that the representatives from the national authorities and representatives from the civil society and NGOs recognized by their work with the public, should be involved. The panelists who conduct the debate should be chosen taking into account their expertise in the work with the public. In addition, a representative from the Secretariat should be in the panel. 
 
At national level, the debate should be addressed to representatives from different population sectors that consume the final product, besides the industry and the authorities. The conduction in this case would be in charge of the competent authority keeping in mind the impartiality that should characterize these authorities in order to the debate doesn't lean toward one of the positions and endeavor that the elements of the CP be present in the debate. 

4. In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should a public debate take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)?

The fact of involving the population in early or late phases of the process depends on each country and of the infrastructures that are created. The best idea would be that the public has participation from the phase of elaboration of the regulatory documents, but this is not always possible. In the case of Cuba the mechanism of public consultation is established for the process of decision-making and not for the regulation process.

5.In what way are the main points from speeches and public comments reflected in public debates possibly integrated into outcomes of final decisions? Are the methods and reasons made public?

In Cuba there is a process of public consultation for those activities that affect the environment seriously including the Biodiversity and whose affectations have direct impact on the population. This process is carried out through government's local structures, which summon the affected sectors of the population. In the final decision that the authority makes, these considerations should be kept in mind. So far, no process of pubic consultation in Cuba concerning LMOS has been carried out.
posted on 2014-05-02 17:31 UTC by Mr. Juan Carlos Menéndez de San Pedro López, Cuba
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5837]
1. What are the primary means through which public debate is taking place (e.g. TV, radio, print)? Should the costs be covered by the government or the media?

In the case of Cuba, the public debate with regard to the LMOs, takes place basically in limited sectors with the representation of the NGOs involved in these topics, the biotechnological sector and a group of scientists and investigators who manifest their personal concerns faced with the possible risks. In these debates, the national competent authorities and professionals from the fields of Economy and Philosophy take participation and representatives from rural organizations as well. These debates take place fundamentally outside of the massive media; nevertheless, representatives from the industry and from the academy have gone to television programs debating about the advantages and risks of the LMOs.

2. How are the public debates being conducted (e.g. moderated, pre-selected questions)? Is it sufficient?

The debates are essentially carried out through workshops or seminars, with presentations of the industry, of an NGO representing the people and authorities. The socioeconomic topics are discussed but not in depth. The debate is rather centered in the most effective ways of involving the population into the process and how to let them get the main technical tools so that the process can be carried out with success.
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3. In your experience, what should the criteria be to select participants/panelists for a balanced public debate (e.g. selecting government officials, NGOs, private sector)?
Concerning the international debate in the context of the protocol, we agreed with the criterion of Colombia that the representatives from the national authorities and representatives from the civil society and NGOs recognized by their work with the public, should be involved. The panelists who conduct the debate should be chosen taking into account their expertise in the work with the public. In addition, a representative from the Secretariat should be in the panel. 
 
At national level, the debate should be addressed to representatives from different population sectors that consume the final product, besides the industry and the authorities. The conduction in this case would be in charge of the competent authority keeping in mind the impartiality that should characterize these authorities in order to the debate doesn't lean toward one of the positions and endeavor that the elements of the CP be present in the debate. 

4. In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should a public debate take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)?

The fact of involving the population in early or late phases of the process depends on each country and of the infrastructures that are created. The best idea would be that the public has participation from the phase of elaboration of the regulatory documents, but this is not always possible. In the case of Cuba the mechanism of public consultation is established for the process of decision-making and not for the regulation process.

5.In what way are the main points from speeches and public comments reflected in public debates possibly integrated into outcomes of final decisions? Are the methods and reasons made public?

In Cuba there is a process of public consultation for those activities that affect the environment seriously including the Biodiversity and whose affectations have direct impact on the population. This process is carried out through government's local structures, which summon the affected sectors of the population. In the final decision that the authority makes, these considerations should be kept in mind. So far, no process of pubic consultation in Cuba concerning LMOS has been carried out.
posted on 2014-05-02 17:31 UTC by Mr. Juan Carlos Menéndez de San Pedro López, Cuba
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5854]
Dear Jeremías:

I think the problem here is that there is a clear objective behind the strategy of what is intended. Therefore I insist on the importance of more efficient pre-planning before asking or start discussions.

Thank you very much.

Claudia Maria Villa
Humboldt Institute Colombia
posted on 2014-05-04 14:04 UTC by Ms. Claudia María Villa, Instituto Alexander von Humboldt
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5970]
This is an excellent point, especially with regard to the precautionary principle. The perception of risk will vary from one person to another. The decision on what is an acceptable level of risk that can be taken should not be left to the scientists. To facilitate discussion, scientists should communicate as clearly as possible to the general public their evidence, and the probability of certain effects on the environment, health and socio-economic considerations.

Further, at some point, all the issues (technical and social) will have to be weighed together by the decision-maker. At that point, it does not make sense to separate the issues.

I agree that there should be clear criteria for an effective debate on socio-economic considerations.
posted on 2014-05-09 14:01 UTC by Ms. Rosette S. Ferrer, Southeast Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment (SEARICE)
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5838]
1. What are the primary means through which public debate is taking place (e.g. TV, radio, print)? Should the costs be covered by the government or the media?
LMO debates in Bolivia have followed two main channels:
• Government debate: mainly through workshops and seminars designed to reach stakeholders, research centers and academic institutions.
• Sectorial debate: mainly conducted through workshops and technology fairs, and conducted by large scale producers (soy, corn, sunflower, sesame, others) in association with importers and technology providers, and oriented mainly to lobbying actions in support of LMO introductions.
• Public debate has been inexistent. The country has low levels of scientific literacy.
2. How are the public debates being conducted (e.g. moderated, pre-selected questions)? Is it sufficient?
• At the government level, debates have been moderated by the National Environmental Authority (Environment and Water Ministry- MMAyA)
3. In your experience, what should the criteria be to select participants/panelists for a balanced public debate (e.g. selecting government officials, NGOs, private sector)?
• In my country knowledge asymmetries are strong and worldviews are extreme, at the same time there has never been a strong debate culture therefore confrontation is the rule. That is why the debate should be planned, structured and conducted in a very strategic manner. A previous public awareness campaign should be implemented. Our constitutional frame establishes the need for broad base debates in environmental issues of interests, the whole society: the four levels of the state - National, Regional, Municipal and Indigenous levels- and civil society institutions, private and public enterprises should be always represented.
4. In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should a public debate take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)? Are these on general or specific issues?
• The debate should be implemented early in the process and accompanied with a public awareness campaign. Considering the low level of scientific literacy, debate should be on general issues.
5. In what way are the main points from speeches and public comments reflected in public debates possibly integrated into outcomes of final decisions? Are the methods and reasons made public?
As in the case of Colombia, in the Plurinational State of Bolivia, implementation of plans, programs or projects that may affect environment, biodiversity and or may negatively affect local economy should be submitted to a public consultation, although no specific mechanism has been set for this consultation.
posted on 2014-05-02 19:38 UTC by Ph.D. Juan Pablo Torrico, Dirección General de Biodiversidad y Áreas Protegidas
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5840]
Dear Mr. Johansen,

Firstly, I would like to congratulate you and your colleague Ms. Ulrika for the excellent jobs in moderating this forum.

My name is Johnny Andrew from Department of Biosafety under Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Malaysia. I would like to apologize for not following the discussion under this Theme and Theme 2 earlier as I understand that the discussion for these 2 themes already closed. But I hope you still can allow my comments under each theme afterward be posted and shared with others. In general, Malaysia recognizes public participation as very crucial aspect for effective biosafety regulatory framework. Our biosafety law provides a provision that requires the approval body to consider comments made by the public when making its decision on any release activities of LMOs.

Here are my comments for each question under Theme 1:

1. What are the primary means through which public debate is taking place (e.g. TV, radio, print)? Should the costs be covered by the government or the media?
Malaysia so far has no experience in conducting public debate on LMOs through electronic media. However, we did organize few talk shows on TV and radio or forum in the workshops on this topic. In our opinion, public debate can take place either through TV or radio depends on issues or topics to be deliberated. Topic on GM food safety for instance is an interest to all hence the most effective mean is TV as it can be easily followed by different groups of people. However, if the issues only affect certain group of people or specific community then it can be conducted in the closed hall without media coverage. For the debate that is initiated by the government as part of their decision making process, then the costs should be covered by them. But others also can allocate some funds to organize the debate through these means for example the NGO, industries and private institutions.

2. How are the public debates being conducted (e.g. moderated, pre-selected questions)? Is it sufficient?
For the beginning, it can start with moderated and pre-selected questions type of debates approach. From there, the whole process can be examined and improved further based on past experiences. It is important also to take into account opinions from the public on how the debates for this issue should be conducted.

3. In your experience, what should the criteria be to select participants/panelists for a balanced public debate (e.g. selecting government officials, NGOs, private sector)?
From our experience, the selection criteria of participants for any type of public participation activities will be determined based on the issues to be discussed. This also applies to public debate and forum. But very few debates on this topic had taken place so far probably because biosafety capacity and level of awareness are still very low among people. Thus participants for this type of activities are usually consisting of government officials, academia, research institutions and NGOs.

4. In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should a public debate take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)? Are these on general or specific issues?
Under Malaysia biosafety law, it does not require public debate to take place before the decision making on LMOs can be made. However, the National Biosafety Board needs to consider comments received from the public when making their decision on the release of the LMOs into the environment. As more applications coming in that carry different level of complexities in handling the application, we foresee a balanced public debate is one of the effective ways to collate certain inputs that are useful for decision making of these release activities of LMOs.

5. In what way are the main points from speeches and public comments reflected in public debates possibly integrated into outcomes of final decisions? Are the methods and reasons made public?
If the debates are conducted for the purpose of collating inputs as part of decision making process, a report will be prepared and presented to the decision making body. Normally the questions asked are pre determined prior to the debates hence most of the comments will be reflected in the report. Since public comments are necessary for decision making process, we have developed a guideline as guidance to applicant in making announcement and inviting public to give comments.

Regards
Johnny
posted on 2014-05-03 11:16 UTC by Mr. Johnny Anak Andrew, Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5875]
Complementing my colleague’s participation (Juan Pablo Torrico):
1. What are the primary means through which public debate is taking place (e.g. TV, radio, print)? Should the costs be covered by the government or the media?

In general, most debate is taking place in meetings and print media that collects incomplete information. There has been public debate about LMO’s organized by NGO’s and I was able to participate in few of them. As expected there is no debate, and there is one single opinion: LMO’s are bad and the enemy. Usually the discussion mixes information that doesn’t have scientific support or feelings towards patents and big companies.

2. How are the public debates being conducted (e.g. moderated, pre-selected questions)? Is it sufficient?
Right now, the debate about these topics lead by the Government is on hold as the policy has to be constructed first. Public debate organized by NGO’s is usually moderated by people that work with producers or with organic production. As I mentioned before, most of the information they handle has little or no scientific support and usually they report a lot of personal opinions from farmers. However they hardly report how they are handling other type of crops (hybrids, mutants, and their chemicals they use for them).

3. In your experience, what should the criteria be to select participants/panelists for a balanced public debate (e.g. selecting government officials, NGOs, private sector)?
Inside the Government, and working with socioeconomic considerations during 2013, we had a positive experience working with producers, NGO’s and other government representatives. But this was a very specific topic and not so polarized to reach conclusions. But in terms of discussing basic information it is crucial to have things clear of what are we talking about in terms of what is a LMO, the technology used, the types of modifications, cases studies and scientific supported information about the risks from these type of biotechnology.

4. In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should a public debate take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)? Are these on general or specific issues?
Right now in Bolivia it is fundamental to define first the National Biosafety Framework, so all the process is clear, including the space and time where public debate should take place.

5. In what way are the main points from speeches and public comments reflected in public debates possibly integrated into outcomes of final decisions? Are the methods and reasons made public?
Many public debates and opinions have influenced some decisions at a Government level, stopping some debates or even closing the debate about certain specific issues. One of the obstacles in Bolivia is the lack of a clear instrument on how to socialize the information that is being discussed in these matters.
posted on 2014-05-05 13:44 UTC by Sra. Cecilia Gonzalez, Bolivia (Plurinational State of)
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5878]
Posted on behalf of Guy Mboma Akani, Democratic Republic of the Congo

La participation du public constitue un serieux problème dans nos pays africains, cela demande l'implication de tous les acteurs et de toutes les couches de la population surtout la jeunesse.
Mais dans la plus part de cas les moyens conséquents pour atteindre ces couches posent de problèmes. En plus avec le niveau de scolarité faible surtout dans les milieux ruraux, la tâche devient un peu plud compliqué, car il faut traduire l'information à la langue locale et à des termes faciles pour une bonne compréhension de la masse qui du reste est à la base de l'echec ou de la réussite de toute action dans tous les domaines de la vie.
posted on 2014-05-05 14:23 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5885]
Posted on behalf of Gado Mahamane, Niger:

Bonjour chers collègues,

Merci beaucup Mr Guy Mboma poue ces observations pertinentes concernant la participation du public  en Afrique. Je suis d'accord sur les difficultés évoquées, mais je pense qu'il faut utiliser au maximum les canaux de communication notamment la radio et la télé à trvers les débats, les forums et audiences publiques pourquoi pas dans les langues locales. On peut aussi organiser des campagnes d'information et de sensibilisation en impliquant les leaders  d'opinion, des artistes, des scolaires etc.

Bien cordialement.

Dr Gado
posted on 2014-05-05 19:06 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5899]
Posted on behalf of Dr. Désiré Randriamasimanana, Madagascar: 

Chers collègues,

Je partage votre opinion sur l'utilisation des différents canaux de sensibilisation. Vu la délicatesse des informations à communiquer, "la question d'OGMs", Le plus important se pose sur les choix du bon message pour les différentes classes du public cible: "Quelles sont les différentes approches afin de faire en sorte que le bon message soit adressé au bon public ? ".

Parlons de la participation du public dans le processus de prise de décision.
Dans le cas des OGM, qui est un domaine non assez difficile à saisir par les néophytes, il est difficile d’appréhender  les impacts négatifs à priori. Pour que cette participation du public soit la plus réussie possible et vraiment en connaissance de cause, il faut que cette participation suit une organisation bien adaptée aux us et coutumes locaux outre les institutions décentralisées légales.

Dr RANDRIAMASIMANANA Désiré
Assistant du projet Biosécurité à Madagascar
posted on 2014-05-06 16:12 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5886]
Posted on behalf of Declan Ambe, Cameroon: 


Je suis entièrement d’accord d’utiliser au maximum les canaux de communication la radio et la télé à travers les débats, les forums et audiences publiques même dans les langues locales comme mentionner par M. Gado. Je pense qu’il faut d’abord commencer par établir un état de connaissance du publique sur le sujet pour avoir un « baseline ». Ceci permettra de mieux structurée les débats, les forums etc.  Pour la dissémination de l’information dans les langues locales, en plus du media, je pense que la société civile,  les associations, ONGs, GICs jouent un grand rôle dans ce sens. Il ne faut pas oublier les réseaux sociaux qui attirent l’attention de la jeunesse. La difficulté serait d’adapter ces réseaux sociaux à véhiculer l’information et  à susciter une grande participation de la jeunesse.

Cordialement,

Declan Ambe - Cameroun
posted on 2014-05-05 19:10 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5887]
Posted on behalf of Guy Mboma Akani, Democratic Republic of the Congo:

Je suis d'accord avec Declan sur l'usage des reseaux sociaux, mais le problème est que ces jeunes seront - ils interessés aux sujets traités?
posted on 2014-05-05 19:14 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5902]
Posted on behalf of Hatem Ben Belgacem, Tunisia:

Bonjour chers collègues,

permettez moi de participer avec vous à cette discussion et de partager ma vision concernant la participation du public. En effet, il est important de concevoir un plan d’information-sensibilisation détaillé et spécifique pour chaque catégorie d’institution ou organisation cible (institutions gouvernementales et parlementaires,  institutions d’appui publiques et privées, grands acteurs économiques et producteurs directs,organisations syndicales et ONG, communauté scientifique et bien évidemment le grand public).  Un plan pour la dernière catégorie (grand public) devra s'articuler sur les éléments suivants :

- Objectif: Informer et sensibiliser le citoyen ordinaire sur les enjeux autour de l’importance de la protection de notre biodiversité pour satisfaire les exigences de développement durable d’une part et du recours éventuel à l’utilisation réglementée des produits des biotechnologies modernes pour satisfaire les exigences de sécurité alimentaires d’autre part. 
- Public cible: toutes les couches sociales du peuple
- Type d’information: L’information devrait porter sur l’importance de la biodiversité nationale dans la protection de l’environnement et dans le développement durable, les avantages et inconvénients des biotechnologies modernes sur tous les plans ainsi que sur les moyens techniques de prévention et de gestion des risques potentiels.
- Modalité de mise en œuvre : La presse écrite en arabe, en français et dialectique (articles scientifiques et de vulgarisation, bandes dessinées, …),médiats audiovisuels (chaînes de télévision et de radio nationales, publiques et privées: émissions, débats et les campagnes d’information et de vulgarisation impliquant scientifiques multidisciplinaires, décideurs politiques, professionnels, consommateurs, représentants d’ONG, avec encadrement assuré par des journalistes scientifiques spécialisés…), Internet (création d’un site fournissant des informations détaillées et pratiques sur les OGM).
posted on 2014-05-06 19:51 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5880]
Dear Ulrika & Johansen,

I would like to thank you both on this interesting forum which I missed doing in my first post on surveys.

I also missed introducing myself. I am elsa sattout, a Lebanese independent researcher and interdisciplinary professional working on biodiversity conservation.
For many years, I have been involved in biosafety related issues especially the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the development of National Biosafety Framework (NBF) including national assessment, training and workshops, and information sharing. I had the chance to work with UNEP/MOE/AUB as Project coordinator on the GEF/UNEP project on the Development of NBF in Lebanon. After that I served the region as a UNEP Regional Advisor on the CPB between 2007 and 2010.

I am glad and honored to meet experts and colleagues from all over the world working on biosafety through this forum. I will share my experience with you again. Some of my answers might be similar to answers already given.

1. What are the primary means through which public debate is taking place (e.g. TV, radio, print)? Should the costs be covered by the government or the media?

Public debates were covered by media (TV) and through seminars or workshops convened by the project (in our case) or by Non-governmental organizations working on food safety or on biodiversity conservation or environmental protection.
We created a biosafety list-server under the NBF project hoping that this will initiate conversation between the national stakeholders from all public and private agency but it did not work-it ended up as a way of information sharing and awareness.

2. How are the public debates being conducted (e.g. moderated, pre-selected questions)? Is it sufficient?

Public debates were moderated in some cases especially the seminars and workshops. In others such as the TV talk shows, some of them we had a set of prepared questions and in some others it was just a kick off question and the following discussions were moderated by the Talk show leader.

3. In your experience, what should the criteria be to select participants/panelists for a balanced public debate (e.g. selecting government officials, NGOs, private sector)?

In fact for a balanced public debates, the best would be to have representatives from the various sectors and defining the sectors would be dependent on whether the debate is tackling one aspects? is it general or very specific?
We had usually representative form ministry of agriculture, ministry of environment, academic institutions, chamber of agriculture and commerce cooperative of farmers, and governmental research center.  NGOs representative participation was shy unless they are organizing the workshop or seminar.


4. In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should a public debate take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)? Are these on general or specific issues?

The best would be during the design of the biosafety framework and the development of the regulatory measures.
Nevertheless, some debates are needed on specific issues especially for field trial when in countries there is not risk management guidelines (Zoning is missing in terms of intentional release into the environment or there is a gap in agricultural land uses and management plans). In these debates, moderation and the selection of the panelists/participants would be very critical.

5. In what way are the main points from speeches and public comments reflected in public debates possibly integrated into outcomes of final decisions? Are the methods and reasons made public?

There must be a set of criteria for integration/non integration of the points arisen from public debates.
But what comes to my mind now is there is a need for awareness and information sharing because there is a big gap on biosafety issue -I think it is mentioned in one of the answer from colleague in this forum.
One of the idea which was proposed in the NBF project for Lebanon is to design a national communication strategy in order to inform the public and whenever a discussion, workshop, etc. take place so we have an "informed participants/panelist".
posted on 2014-05-05 14:45 UTC by Dr. Elsa Sattout, Notre Dame University
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5884]
Posted on behalf of Chantal Yvette Zoungrana Kabore, Burkina Faso

Public debates: Considerations from Burkina Faso

1. What are the primary means through which public debate is taking place (e.g. TV, radio, print)? Should the costs be covered by the government or the media?

Le débat public se déroule de plusieurs manières soit :
- à travers les médias
- par des sessions d’information du public
- par des audiences publiques
1. Les medias, télé, radio, presses écrites sont obligatoirement conviés à une conférence de presse dès qu’une décision concernant une activité sur les OGM est prise. Le but de la conférence est de pouvoir informer le public comme l’exige la loi nationale sur la biosécurité.
La conférence de presse consiste à inviter le maximum d’organes étatiques et privés. La conférence de presse consiste en :
- une déclaration liminaire de l’autorité nationale compétente responsable de la prise de décision  qui est l’Agence nationale de biosécurité (ANB). L’ANB est assistée lors de cette conférence de presse par le Comité scientifique national de biosécurité(CSNB) et l’Observatoire national de biosécurité(ONB). Cette déclaration liminaire fait l’état de la demande formulée ; précise le notifiant ; fait état des résultats antérieurs obtenus sur la question (s’ils existent) ; justifie la prise de décision ; précise les conditionnalités de l’autorisation et la durée de l’autorisation ;
- cette déclaration liminaire est suivie des questions des journalistes qui peuvent porter sur la déclaration liminaire ou toute autre question relative aux OGM aussi bien celle qui concernent  niveau national, régional ou international ;
- par la suite, des réponses sont apportées par l’ANB. Les réponses peuvent être complétées par le CSNB et l’ONB.
2. De nombreuses sessions d’information du public sont organisées en se basant sur une stratégie de communication préétablie. Cette stratégie a défini plusieurs groupes cibles : décideurs politiques et parlementaires ; membres du cadre national de biosécurité ; chercheurs et enseignants ; large public ; agents d’encadrement des producteurs ; producteurs spécifiquement ceux de coton ; communicateurs ; élèves et étudiants ; personnels des ministères concernés par la question des OGM ; leaders d’opinion : religieux ; chefferie traditionnelle ; transformateurs de produits OGM ;  agents travaillant aux frontières (douaniers, eaux et forêts, phytosanitaires, élevage) et police scientifique. Chaque groupe cible est approché de façon individuelle. En plus des groupes cibles, des sessions d’information sont prévues dans chacune des treize (13) régions que compte le pays.
Toutes les sessions d’information sont très médiatisées. En effet, la télévision, la radio nationale, la radio locale et des presses écrites sont invitées à couvrir l’évènement.
L’information est aussi apportée au niveau de la localité par des banderoles annonçant l’évènement et placées à des points stratégiques de la localité.
3. Une audience publique a été organisée dans une localité où un laboratoire de biosécurité devait être construit. L’audience publique a consisté en une identification par les responsables de la mairie des différentes catégories d’acteurs à consulter. Le quota des acteurs a été défini en fonction de l’importance numérique du groupe. Ces acteurs ont été regroupés dans un premier temps pour leur expliquer les enjeux liés à l’installation du laboratoire de biosécurité. Par la suite, il a été demandé à ces acteurs de donner leur avis (acceptation ou refus) sur la mise en place  de ce type d’ouvrage dans leur localité.
Les coûts concernant l’information du public sont couverts par le gouvernement même si, du fait que ce soit une activité étatique, les organes de presse du secteur public peuvent consentir une réduction des coûts.

2. How are the public debates being conducted (e.g. moderated, pre-selected questions)? Is it sufficient?

Lors des sessions d’information, des exposés sur des thèmes spécifiques sont délivrés à l’attention du groupe cible. Selon le thème le communicateur peut provenir de l’autorité nationale compétente, de ses démembrements (CSNB et ONB) ou de la recherche.
La modération est toujours confiée à un membre du groupe cible concerné.
A la suite des exposés, les participants interviennent individuellement, soit pour faire des commentaires, soit pour exprimer des préoccupations spécifiques et/ou poser des questions. Des éléments d’information complémentaire sont fournis et des réponses sont apportées à chacune des questions.

3. In your experience, what should the criteria be to select participants/panelists for a balanced public debate (e.g. selecting government officials, NGOs, private sector)?


Pour les critères de sélection des panelistes on se base sur :

- la compétence technique et/ou scientifique de l’intéressé par rapport au thème présenté ;
- l’aptitude de la personne à communiquer qui doit inclure une prédisposition à savoir écouter, expliquer, etc ;
- des champions c’est-à-dire des personnes ayant une pratique en la matière (exemple certains producteurs ou responsable d’association de producteurs).
Pour les critères de sélection du public, deux cas de figures peuvent se présenter :
- lorsqu’il s’agit d’un groupe cible homogène (exemple les communicateurs), une invitation officielle est envoyée à la structure coordonnatrice en indiquant les thèmes qui vont être développés et le nombre de participants attendus. Il revient alors à la structure de designer les participants ;
- lorsqu’il s’agit d’un groupe hétérogène (par exemple cas des sensibilisations dans les régions), les structures publiques, privées et celles de la société civile de la région concernée sont préalablement identifiées. Par la suite, un nombre de participants est affecté à chaque groupe et la latitude est laissée à chaque groupe pour désigner ses participants.

4. In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should a public debate take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)? Are these on general or specific issues?


Un débat public devrait nécessairement intervenir à différents moments du processus de prise de décision.
Par exemple, lors de l’élaboration de la réglementation sur les OGM, le public a été consulté lors d’un atelier national de validation de l’avant projet de loi.
La mise en place des essais en milieu confiné dans une localité se fait de façon participative en informant les communautés riveraines et en permettant à leurs représentants de pouvoir suivre l’évolution des expérimentations sur le terrain.
Le schéma national de prise décision en matière d’OGM prévoit l’information de l’Observatoire National de Biosécurité (qui est une représentation de l’administration publique et de la société civile) sur le type de notification qui a été soumis à l’Agence Nationale de Biosécurité pour autorisation.
Les commentaires de l’Observatoire National de Biosécurité doivent être envoyés à l’autorité nationale compétente.
posted on 2014-05-05 18:38 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5888]
Posted on behalf of Cecilia Llabres, Argentina:

Dear Participants:

In behalf of Argentina I would like, first of all, to thanks the CDB Secretariat for organizing this online discussion and all the participants for sending their contributions on this issue.

Public perception is an important issue for Argentina,. Not only is it important for us how to engage the general public but also to  provide the public (consumers, farmers, etc.) with information regarding biotechnology issues.

Argentina has a long history of safe use of GMOs. However, through the disclosure of the activities of the government (usually in newspapers and television), our attempt is to draw public attention to issues related to biotechnology.

In this sense, our aim is not only that the public understand what a GMO is, but also to help them to acknowledge the existence of a strict regulatory framework that is enforced by the government in order to control and promote biotechnological activities. 

We believe that today the general public is informed mainly through the media and the Internet.

We consider that in any kind of activity regarding public perception, it is important to invite as participants representatives from the countries which have experience in GMOs activities, because they can share their experiences with the rest of the participants as well as describe the challenges that they have faced (and perhaps are still facing) and how they are  dealing with them, etc.
We think that is important and useful for all of us to know what a third country is doing regarding this topic.

We should think about activities that offer the public elements to allow them to differentiate between rigorous scientific evidence and subjective beliefs.

Regards,

Cecilia Llabres
posted on 2014-05-05 19:25 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5894]
Posted on behalf of Ta Thi Kieu Anh, Vietnam:

Dear all and thank Johansen T. Voker as a moderator. I'm from Vietnam Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment and happy to join the forum. Hereafter is my opinion on the 5 question of this theme.

1. What are the primary means through which public debate is taking place (e.g. TV, radio, print)? Should the costs be covered by the government or the media?

In my opinions, the primary mean of public debate is unofficial method such as post threads/message on web forums, comments on electronic articles, email network… More official way is TV debate which is covered by media/government and industries.

2. How are the public debates being conducted (e.g. moderated, pre-selected questions)? Is it sufficient?
With debate on TV show, the questions are normally selected to make them suitable to the TV show. Through other means such as web forum, comments on articles, it’s free for everybody who is interest could express their opinons on GM crops, sharing evidence, articles to prove their opinions.

3. In your experience, what should the criteria be to select participants/panelists for a balanced public debate (e.g. selecting government officials, NGOs, private sector)?

To balance a public debate, especially on a TV show, it’d better to choose representatives from difference point of view such as government officials, consumer, researchers and industries.

4. In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should a public debate take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)? Are these on general or specific issues?

Public comment should be taken into account in the process of regulatory development as well as making decision on each GMO such as making decision on field trials, approve for cultivations, food or feed use.

5. In what way are the main points from speeches and public comments reflected in public debates possibly integrated into outcomes of final decisions? Are the methods and reasons made public?

In Vietnam, we stipulated in regulation that all of decision-making process of specific GMO must take into account public comments. In order to facilitate the process, we upload summary of risk assessment report onto nBCH to get public comments.
posted on 2014-05-06 13:32 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5920]
Hi All,


1. What are the primary means through which public debate is taking place (e.g. TV, radio, print)? Should the costs be covered by the government or the media?

The major platform is definitely TV & Radio. I don't think print is a suitable medium for exchange of ideas or to debate.
but,definitely the social media platforms i.e discussion forums,group pages etc are fast replacing this traditional platforms.  A specialized subject like LMO shall begin with informal discussions like workshops/conferences at universities/institutes and promote them in social media sites subsequently.

Sponsors ,who are willing to cover the costs can be identified in the case of TV or Radio debate.

2. How are the public debates being conducted (e.g. moderated, pre-selected questions)? Is it sufficient?

Debates are moderated by the person who is familiar with the subject with a pre-selected list of questions sothat the discussion can organized such a way that the objective is achieved with limited amount of time that is available. He will also balance the discussion if it is drifting side ways.
3. In your experience, what should the criteria be to select participants/panelists for a balanced public debate (e.g. selecting government officials, NGOs, private sector)?

Shall be cross section i.e an expert in the field, a regulator,representative of consumer class,NGO etc

4. In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should a public debate take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)? Are these on general or specific issues?

Debate @ development stage mostly by experts,regulator,NGO

Debate @ field trials involving ultimate consumers,public,NGOs

Debate @ post decision involving regulatory bodies
posted on 2014-05-08 09:28 UTC by Mr Sreenivasulu Goute, Export Inspection Agency-Kolkata
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5936]
Posted on behalf of Milena Roudna, Czech Republic:

Milena Roudna, Adviser to Ministry of the Environment, Czech Republic

Theme 1 – Public debate
General comments to all Themes:
Country conditions and pecularities need to be taken into account (depending mainly on legislation and regulation in force, situation as to languages used, membership in regional units or organizations with common regulations etc.).
In so far received numerous comments to Theme 1, sometimes mixture with Theme 6 appears as well as general comments on public awareness.

To the given questions:
• Public meetings can have different means, efficient are meetings/workshops (face-to-face meetings), conferences, social network (ever increasing role), as well as TV and radio.
            Costs generally covered by government   or media (those often directly or indirectly  also  paid by government).
• Moderator important, in combination with pre-selected questions.
• If public debate, all interested groups to include – government, experts (to be able to answer given questions and react properly), civil society, NGOs. Nevertheless problem to attract all groups.
• Important in development of regulatory framework, as in other phases mentioned required procedure is usually defined by legislation adopted. Very important is debate  in Parlament with responsible representatives (meeting and discussion with experts, explanation of problems etc.) before adoption of legislation.
• Only relevant conclusions to be taken into account.
posted on 2014-05-08 13:47 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5947]
Posted on behalf of Bather Kone, African Union:

THEME 1: Public Debates

1- TV, Radios (including private radios), Meeting, Individual contacts have been used in the case of Mali for awareness issues. The costs should be covered by both on mutual agreed terms.
2- In many cases at the initial phase of the process the civil society has taken the lead of the public debate, and the debate was focused on the risks related to the adoption of the GMOs. Later on the debate was on more balanced approach involving government agencies. It was enough to slow down the adoption of the GMOs in some cases giving more time to more reflect on the matter.
3- The Participants/Panelists should include all those listed but also famers and policy makers (Parliamentarians) and both pro and anti from all categories.
4- The Public debate should take all the way ensuring involvement in the whole process.
5- Because of the strong public debate, the regulatory framework on biosafety has gone through a long period of debate at the Parliament before its adoption (vote).
posted on 2014-05-08 16:50 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5960]
Thank you for raising some relevant questions here.

I will answer question 4 and 5 here in detail, but it applies eqally to the other threads.

With regard to question 4:
Article 23 states quite clearly that "the parties shall ... consult the public _in_ the decission making process..."
Organising any public debate (or survey, meeting, online consultation, etc.) _after_ a decission has been taken is therefor not an option. It would also be rather pointless to do so because that would only be informing the public about what has been done, without giving them the chance to actually participate.

In general, the public should be able to participate in the decission making as early as possible, for example in the development of a regulatory framework, and not only at the end of the whole procedure. Attempts to restrict public debate to some smaller issues at the end of a process don't usually work, and only leads to frustration on all sides.  If for example members of the public disagree with the regulatory framework but have not been able to participate in decissions about it, then they will bring up those concerns at a later point, for example when the import of an LMO is discussed under this framework. It will leave them frustrated about the process, as well as it frustrates the organizers of the debate when the participants don't stick  to the narrowed-down question at hand.
So in order to make the most of the expertise, knowledge, ideas and concerns of the public, it is important to allow public participation as early as possible in the process.

This leads to question 5 about the way in which the main points should be integrated in the final decision.
The experience with public participation is often that this does not appear to be clearly defined by the organizers themselves, and that's it is very discouraging for members of the public if they first engage in the debate and then don't see the outcome taken up.
Stating clearly what the goal of a public debate is - whether it is for example an input on a specific regulatory process, or a general debate to assess the general opinion - will help both the organizers and participants to work towards that goal. Unclear expectations or results that appear to get discarded will make any future debates more complicated.
posted on 2014-05-09 12:06 UTC by Ms. Antje Lorch, Ecoropa
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5968]
Warm greetings to all. I would like to thank and congratulate our moderator, Dr. Voker. I also thank my fellow participants for the informative comments.

1. What are the primary means through which public debate is taking place (e.g. TV, radio, print)? Should the costs be covered by the government or the media?

Public debate in the Philippines has been more than heated in the past couple of years given the recent decision by the Court of Appeals to stop field trials for bt eggplant, and the tests on yellow rice (aka "golden rice"). Public debate has been mostly a back-and-forth from both camps through print media and its online equivalent. There has also been some discussion on the radio, especially when news of the uprooting by civil society broke.

2. How are the public debates being conducted (e.g. moderated, pre-selected questions)? Is it sufficient?

There hasn't been a truly public debate where both camps got together and defended positions for the public to decide.

3. In your experience, what should the criteria be to select participants/panelists for a balanced public debate (e.g. selecting government officials, NGOs, private sector)?

Government, scientists, NGOs, industry, and consumer groups.

4. In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should a public debate take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)? Are these on general or specific issues?

These are done when there is wide interest from the general public, and perceived significant risk regarding specific LMOs.

5. In what way are the main points from speeches and public comments reflected in public debates possibly integrated into outcomes of final decisions? Are the methods and reasons made public?

Besides public meetings, public debates are not formally integrated in decisions, as it is not part of the regulations. However, regulatory bodies are mandated to make the basis of their decisions public.
posted on 2014-05-09 13:36 UTC by Ms. Rosette S. Ferrer, Southeast Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment (SEARICE)
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5971]
Posted on behalf of Suchismita Roy, Association for the Biotech Led Enterprises (Agriculture Group):

Dear JOHANSEN,

Thank you for providing an opportunity to be participate in this forum. I am pleased and honoured to convey my thoughts on this theme of Public Debate.

I am Ms Suchismita Roy, from India engaged as the Communications Consultant for the Association of Biotech Led Enterprises- Agriculture group from India.
The following questions in this forum are very important for us since we are engaged in such activities.

I would like to provide the answers as given below.

1. What are the primary means through which public debate is taking place (e.g. TV, radio, print)? Should the costs be covered by the government or the media?
In India public debate on this subject takes place primarily through the television media. In print it is mostly opinions which are discussed and formed. Radio which is a means of mass media and reaches a large section of the society may be used and local languages can be used to reach the mass.

The costs should be covered by the Media, Government, Scientific Institutions, Civil Societies, NGOS Private sector and public who have interest in the subject.

2. How are the public debates being conducted (e.g. moderated, pre-selected questions)? Is it sufficient?
The public debates on such scientific subject should be pre selected, pre rehearsed, panelists should be aware of the subject, rules and regulations, the moderator should also possess a scientific background to remove any emotional rational while moderating such debates. The debates would lead to creation of public awareness which should not mis-lead the public.
There should be more debates organised in various forums.


3. In your experience, what should the criteria be to select participants/panelists for a balanced public debate (e.g. selecting government officials, NGOs, private sector)?

4. In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should a public debate take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)? Are these on general or specific issues?
However a point to be noted is these debates should ideally be answered by qualified personnel who possess knowledge on the subject, use science as a medium to create awareness among public at large. Emotional debates should be avoided so as not to mislead public at large who would have a final say on the representation. There should be more public debates with a positive attitude to provide general public a correct perspective who are unaware of the science behind this. This will enable public at large to take the correct decision.
5. In what way are the main points from speeches and public comments reflected in public debates possibly integrated into outcomes of final decisions? Are the methods and reasons made public?

The points should be precise and understood by general public since the power of science is involved in such subjects which may not be understood by lay men . On the other hand it may be misconstrued by people opposing such themes. To put in a balance is such discussions , clear simple lucid language should be used.

Thank you
Ms Suchismita Roy
posted on 2014-05-09 14:18 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#6006]
Hello to everybody!  Thank each of participants for information provided. The National Coordination Biosafety Centre in Belarus tries to provide public with actual information in regard to GMO and gains daily experience in this field. I hope my responses will be useful.

1. What are the primary means through which public debate is taking place (e.g. TV, radio, print)? Should the costs be covered by the government or the media?

TV and radio talk shows are the most popular means for public debates in Belarus. The cost of those talk shows is covered by the government or TV/radio company. Ithink it is very important to avoid pressing from the companies/persons interested in special results of debates.

Newspapers and magazines also should participate in the debates actively because they have unique possibility to reach each citizen in person and arrange GMO information for persons having different level of education.

2. How are the public debates being conducted (e.g. moderated, pre-selected questions)? Is it sufficient?

Our experience shows that pre-selected questions are resulted in the most effective discussions.


3. In your experience, what should the criteria be to select participants/panelists for a balanced public debate (e.g. selecting government officials, NGOs, private sector)?

To get the best result the auditoria should be balanced with participants from scientific and commercial fields, from governmental bodies and NGOs, and do not forget private sector. Each participant has his own interest and opinion concerning biosafety issues and they should be listened to. 

4. In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should a public debate take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)? Are these on general or specific issues?

The laws and ministry resolutions regulate genetic engineering activities and GMO transport, handling and processing  is general, but some concrete issues are under the most public attention. In Belarus the public want mostly to be informed on presence of GMO ingredients in foodstuffs. This theme is in the centre of all discussions as usual.    

5. In what way are the main points from speeches and public comments reflected in public debates possibly integrated into outcomes of final decisions? Are the methods and reasons made public?

Governmental bodies and regional administrative bodies should response on each request received from a citizen of Belarus. They ask people to send written requests and/or proposals or do it in on-line format. The information gathered during each month should be analyzed and sent to the proper executive institution. We have no received appeals in regard to GMOs from citizens at present but this method works in other fields of civil life.
posted on 2014-05-13 14:38 UTC by Assoc. Prof. Elena Makeyeva, Belarus
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#6027]
Posted on behalf of Mr. Wouamane Mbele, Cameroon:

Dear Participants, please find below my comments on theme 1 on public debates:

• What are the primary means through which public debate is taking place (e.g. TV, radio, print)? Should the costs be covered by the government or the media?

Through workshops, meetings and interviews on radios/televisions.
Costs are usually covered by the government or the applicant.

• How are the public debates being conducted (e.g. moderated, pre-selected questions)? Is it sufficient?

Participants to Workshops are usually preselected to discuss of selected topics. For radio debates, topics and some participants are preselected but public can also intervene in the debate through phone calls; For TV debates, themes and participants are preselected. For all of these, within the framework of the theme, all questions and views are allowed, welcome. 
This is not sufficient because more engagements and opportunities for discussions are needed at all levels, particularly to involve all stakeholders from government to civil societies and communities.

• In your experience, what should the criteria be to select participants/panelists for a balanced public debate (e.g. selecting government officials, NGOs, private sector)?

Normally the level of education and knowledge in the subject should be considered: a good panel should have an expert from each sector of importance. However, it may also be good to have representative of the lower class community.

• In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should a public debate take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)? Are these on general or specific issues?

Public debates should be at every level listed i.e. from the development of regulatory frameworks, prior to the decision on an import of an LMO, to the field trials. Public debates have been taken into consideration under some articles of the Cameroon Law on Modern Biotechnology and its Decree of implementation.
These are on both general and specific issues.

• In what way are the main points from speeches and public comments reflected in public debates possibly integrated into outcomes of final decisions? Are the methods and reasons made public?

Important points made from speeches and public comments during public debates are usually analyzed and pertinent views are suggested for integration into final decisions.
posted on 2014-05-16 08:45 UTC by Mr DECLAN AMBE
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5869]
Dear all,

considering public debates; question 1 public debates should take place in radio and TV the costs should be covered both government and media
2. public debatesare being conducted by pre selected questions.No, it is not suffiscient, so we must determine target for example students, educators,private sectors,NGOs
3, in our experience, criteria to select participants for a balance public debates should be selecting government officials, NGOs private sectors ,educators
4, in our experience public debates should take place on developmentof regulatory frameworks; these are on general issues;
posted on 2014-05-05 07:11 UTC by Mrs. Marie Blandine Ramanantenasoa, Madagascar
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5882]
- What are the primary means through which public debate is taking place (e.g. TV, radio, print)? Should the costs be covered by the government or the media?

In the case of El Salvador, the main way in which people discuss and express their views is through the radio (mostly) and social networks (massively) as these are more immediate and easily accessible by economically and to call for major public; is not the case for TV because an exercise trough this resource are quite limited.

One point that is important is the approach that is biased on [Biotechnology = Transgenic applied to agriculture] as this leads to a series of biased value judgments, and in the worst cases, negatively affects in the result of a properly informed and directed debate that since left out others aspects related to GMOs/LMOs that are important to discuss from the perspective of decision-making like a country.

- How are the public debates being conducted (e.g. moderated, pre-selected questions)? Is it sufficient?

Due to the political and social context that currently prevails in El Salvador, in most cases are addressed and questions under moderate interest group that promotes debate (environmental NGO Representation Industry, Ministerial Representation etc.) which, although accomplishes the goal of "getting the desired result" no longer enough because inevitably the end result (the representative average opinion) is a partial approach that responds to the interests of the group or representation suitable to debate leaving out aspects that could enrich and balance the discussions are held and are very necessary for our country to be prepared to make more informed decisions.

- In your experience, what should the criteria be to select participants/panelists for a balanced public debate (e.g. selecting government officials, NGOs, private sector)?

According our experience like a country, we believe that the selection of panelists and experts must be always balanced (whether they are for or against, but must be balanced) as this ensures the fairness of the exercise which helps the country matures and advance in knowledge, self-judgment and independence, but always in accordance with the signed agreements and international commitments.

- In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should a public debate take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)? Are these on general or specific issues?

For the experience we have had, we believe that this exercise should be during the process that the country is promoting a decision, of course, must be very technical discussions to help us to have a very clear vision who that we should not mix issues that have nothing to do with each other (or are not comparable per se) because otherwise they will continue to be tribunes of opinion, forums, discussions, without the primary objective is met: that people discuss with knowledge and informed judgment.

- In what way are the main points from speeches and public comments reflected in public debates possibly integrated into outcomes of final decisions? Are the methods and reasons made public?

According to the dynamics of the past five years, the main points and public comments have been reflected not only in the final decisions but also in the national consultation processes that have been carried out to make those decisions; is to emphasize that the arguments on which the debates have arisen (as I said above have occurred partially) have been reflected in the positions that the competent authorities have communicated through different instruments (Strategies, Plans action Programs, etc). Although the processes are public, the development of final instruments are not so much so that as a nation we still have a large and daunting task to fulfill.
posted on 2014-05-05 17:34 UTC by Lic. Jeremias Ezequiel Yanes, El Salvador
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5898]
Dear All,

First I would like to apologise for being late to this theme, but there is a lot of information in a short time.
Regarding the guiding questions, I will try to expose the Spanish situation and how we proceed to ensure public participation.
1. What are the primary means through which public debate is taking place (e.g. TV, radio, print)? Should the costs be covered by the government or the media?
Currently, public debates are not very frequent in Spain, but when there is one, it is organized by one of the stakeholders, e.g, NGO, industry, public administration, farm associations, etc. It implies that costs are covered by the organizing stakeholder. Obviously you can find information about GMO by different means, like specific radio programs or websites, but not as a public debate. Both of them admit different opinions as “comments” but this format is not a “formal debate”.

2. How are the public debates being conducted (e.g. moderated, pre-selected questions)? Is it sufficient?
The way of conducting debates depends on the organizing stakeholder. They usually have the same structure: a short number of conferences given by invited experts to focus the later discussion, a moderator and a final session of questions or a public debate.

3. In your experience, what should the criteria be to select participants/panelists for a balanced public debate (e.g. selecting government officials, NGOs, private sector)?
The audience is the main criteria to select participants because not all the debates are open to everyone. If it is a wide range audience, there should be a balance among invited participants to have an open debate (scientist, civil servants, NGOs, industry…). The audience will be directly related with the organizer and the panel of participants.

4. In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should a public debate take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)? Are these on general or specific issues?
From my point of view public debates are not the best way of taking account public opinion, because you are not sure about how representative it is.
To taking account public opinion in decision-making process on LMO in Spain, we have created a “Participants Committee”. There is represented different stratus of society: seed industry, farm associations and farm unions, consumer associations, food industry, NGOs and pharmaceutical industry. This Committee is chaired by the General Secretariat of the Ministry of Agriculture Food and Environment.
Another way to take account public opinion is to answers questions they send to the Ministry. Based on Spanish Law 27/2006 to regulate the right of access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters, every single person or any organization can ask for any public information they have the right to know and we have the obligation to answer within a month. Currently we receive one consultation per week on average.
Finally, in the website of the Ministry of Agriculture Food and Environment, you can find all information about LMO, but you also can leave comments to every new notification of contained use or voluntary release of GMO for a month after the publication of the notification.

5. In what way are the main points from speeches and public comments reflected in public debates possibly integrated into outcomes of final decisions? Are the methods and reasons made public?
The main points of any public comment should have scientific sound. Then they are examined by the National Biosecurity Commission which considers whether they have to be taken account or not. Public can make comments through above ways.

Omar del Río
Minstry of Agriculture Food and Environment
Spain
posted on 2014-05-06 16:05 UTC by Mr Omar del Río Fernández, Spain
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5953]
Hello. Apologises for the late submission, but below is a joint submission on Themes 1 (Public debates), 2 (Surveys) and 3 (Public meetings) from Stacy Scott and Kirsty Allen, Senior Advisors in the New Organisms team at the Environmental Protection Authority, New Zealand (EPA NZ). \

If you want to import, develop, field test or release GMOs in New Zealand you must apply to the EPA NZ for approval under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms 1996 Act (“the HSNO Act”). The HSNO Act outlines the mandated risk assessment criteria used to assess GMOs. The delegated decision-makers are an independent committee appointed by the Minister for the Environment. The Committee members have a range of expertise including public health, environmental management, legislation, Maori (New Zealand’s indigenous people). EPA staff provide risk assessments to the Committee to inform their decision-making, Decisions are made using criteria outlined in the HSNO Act.

Under the HSNO Act certain applications must be publicly notified. There is no “public debate” on specific applications. The purpose of public notification is to ensure that the decision-maker is informed on all relevant matters and has heard the views of those affected by the decision, including the views of the public, technical information, the effect of the decision on the public or specified groups, and any additional information the members of the public can provide. This ensures that the decision is made following a fully informed consideration of all relevant factors.

However, formal public debate on GMOs has taken place in the past to inform legislative change. In 2000 the New Zealand Government established the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification. There were four members of the Commission with the following expertise: a former Chief Justice, a bishop of the Anglican Church, a senior academic with experience in biochemistry, physiology and reproductive biology, and a medical doctor with expertise in community and Maori health.
The Commission carried out:
• a public opinion survey
• 15 public meetings, spread throughout New Zealand
• a Maori consultation programme involving 28 workshops and 12 hui
• a Youth Forum
• a public submission process resulting in more than 10,000 written submissions
• formal hearings lasting 13 weeks and involving more than 100 interested Persons2 and nearly 300 witnesses, many from overseas.

After the Commission, the New Zealand Government responded to their recommendations and amended certain sections of the HSNO Act in 2003.
Informal public discussions on GMOs is active in New Zealand with various interest groups (NGOs, academia) taking part in public discussions/debates on LMOs/GMOs using a variety of mediums, including: conferences, community public debates, TV, radio, blogs, social media etc... Whoever disseminates the information usually covers the associated costs.
posted on 2014-05-09 02:22 UTC by Stacy Scott, New Zealand
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5984]
Posted on behalf of Bather Koné, African Union:

Dear participants,

I would like to share with you some general information on public participation from an issue paper prepared for the African Union Commission entitled "Public Participation in African Biosafety Regulations and Policies". Some progress have been made after the development of the paper. However, there are some key points that are still relevant. The document is made available in the resource page under the online forum at http://bch.cbd.int/onlineconferences/portal_art23/pp_resources.shtml

Thank you,
Bather Koné
posted on 2014-05-09 20:20 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#5992]
Dear Bather,
Thanks for the contribution. We encourage participants especially from the  Africa Region to make use of the document.

Regards,

Johansen T.Voker
Moderator
PP Forum
posted on 2014-05-11 14:21 UTC by Mr. Johansen T. Voker, Liberia
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#6014]
Je me nomme KAKPO Comlan Marcel. Je suis le Point Focal National du Protocole de Cartagena et du BCH de la République du Bénin. Expert en Biosécurité et Directeur du Centre Béninois de Biodiversité, d’Ecotourisme et des Semences (CBBES-ONG).
Je remercie tous les initiateurs de ce forum.

Par ce canal je vous informe que la République du Bénin est sortie définitivement du moratoire depuis le 11 mars 2013. A cet effet, je sollicite tout appui aussi bien technique que financier pour élaborer la loi nationale sur la biosécurité et permettre la mise en œuvre du Cadre National de Biosécurité élaboré et adopté depuis 2005. Je vous remercie d'avance pour ma requête.

1. La République du Bénin étant sous moratoire pendant dix (10) ans, le débat public a été dominé essentiellement par les Anti OGM. Signalons que les moyens utilisés aussi bien par le gouvernement que la société civile anti OGM sont : la télévision, les radios, les conférences débats, les ateliers, les séminaires et  les journaux. Pour les activités organisées par le gouvernement, les coûts sont couverts par lui et celles organisées par les ONGs anti OGM par les ONGs internationales anti OGM.

2. Les débats sont modérés. Car les anti OGM se comportent comme seuls eux sont détenteurs de la vérité oubliant que la science évolue et que la biotechnologie moderne est irréversible. Les questions sont généralement prédéfinies sur la problématique des cultures OGM. Ces débats au stade actuel est insuffisant car les producteurs, les consommateurs et le secteur privé sont mal et moins informés sur les OGM.

3. A mon point de vue, pour les débats publics, toutes parties prenantes (gouvernement, ONG, sociétés civile et secteur privé) doivent être représentées afin que chacun exprime librement ses idées.

4. Les débats ou réunions publiques peuvent se faire directement dans les langues locales mais il demeure une difficulté, à savoir les mots équivalents dans les langues locales en matière de biotechnologie et biosécurité.

5. Les débats publics doivent comment dès la notification d’importation d’un OGM. Il s’agit d’un processus et à chaque niveau il faut instaurer pour permettre à chaque partie prenante de se faire une opinion.

6. En ce qui concerne le Bénin, il n’y a jamais eu de décision. Mais les débats des ateliers et séminaires sont consignés dans un rapport. Les supports audio visuels sont conservés par les différents organes.
posted on 2014-05-15 12:43 UTC by Mr. Comlan Marcel KAKPO, Ministère de l'Environnement, de l'Habitat et de l'Urbanisme
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#6020]
Posted on behalf of Alex Owusu-Biney, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP):

Dear participants,

UNEP appreciates the organization and moderation of this online forum on public participation concerning LMOs. We are already making use of the contributions to this online discussion in our workshops.

We would also like to share some resources that may be useful for participants. The first one is entitled "UNEP-GEF toolkit module on public consultation and analysis" and the second one is entitled “Public Participation and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety”. The resources are made available in the resource page under the online forum at http://bch.cbd.int/onlineconferences/portal_art23/pp_resources.shtml

Thank you,

Alex Owusu-Biney
Portfolio Manager (Biosafety), GEF Coordination
Division of Environmental Policy Implementation
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
posted on 2014-05-15 14:01 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#6021]
Thank you Alex for your help in this regard.  Sounds like useful material.
posted on 2014-05-15 20:08 UTC by Ms. Anita James, Saint Lucia
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#6024]
Thank you, Alex, for the information. This tool is very useful.
posted on 2014-05-16 05:46 UTC by Assoc. Prof. Elena Makeyeva, Belarus
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#6042]
Posted on behalf of Bob Phelps, Gene Ethics:

Dear participants,

We would like to share some information on a brief history of genetic manipulation debate in Australia. Please find attached a PDF file.

Best regards,
Bob Phelps
Executive Director
Gene Ethics
posted on 2014-05-16 15:56 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety
RE: Theme 1: Public debates [#6043]
Posted on behalf of Theodore Koukis, the Aarhus Convention:

On behalf of the Aarhus Convention I would like to congratulate the CBD secretariat for organising a very successful forum. Please find below the input from the Aarhus Convention Secretariat:

INPUT FOR PUBLIC DEBATES

The Lucca Guidelines (available from: http://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/env/pp/documents/gmoguidelinesenglish.pdf) were adopted by the Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention in Lucca (21-23 October 2002) in order to promote access to information, public participation and access to justice regarding GMOs.
One of the main objectives of the Lucca Guidelines is to stimulate open, transparent, efficient and accountable decision-making on activities with GMOs, thereby fostering good practices for public participation in decision-making;
According to the Guidelines, public participation should be provided in decision-making procedures related to the deliberate release, the placing on the market and contained use. The Guidelines suggest a number of decision-making procedures, which should generally be subject to public participation.
Several good examples for adequate public notice are listed such as:
(a) In the official government gazette;
(b) In appropriate national, regional or local newspapers;
(c) At the town hall of the municipality in the proximity of the facility or site where
the proposed activity (contained use or deliberate release) with GMOs is intended to take place;
(d) On their Internet site; and/or
(e) On any existing national or regional clearing-house mechanisms.
posted on 2014-05-16 16:44 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety