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2022-02-03

Editorial from Stephan Becker-Sonnenschein

Dear readers and friends of the Global Food Summit,

we are very pleased to announce a new date for the Global Food Summit, where we will also meet live and in person at the Alte Kongresshalle in Munich. The conference, on June 7 and 8, 2022, will be themed: "Ambassadors of Bioeconomy".

As "Ambassadors for Bioeconomy", many innovative partner countries are again expected to be at our side in June, countries such as Greece, Brazil, Israel, Peru and the Netherlands. They all showcase pioneering research projects and examples of how bioeconomy can transform how food is grown, produced and processed. Bioeconomy is used to make advanced technologies sustainable.

Although the challenges of the new technologies affect conventional agriculture and organic agriculture equally, Germany is looking less at the future opportunities of the bioeconomy. Rather, it gets tangled up in retrograde discussions that hinder the discussion of the future.

In this sense, we also see the Global Food Summit as an ambassador for the bioeconomy. The future of sustainable food production has long since begun worldwide. In the meantime, not only China, Israel and the USA are ahead of us, but also Latin America and Africa are catching up: for example, by using innovative forms of protein production through fermentation or with the use of genome editing. After all, it is still necessary to feed around nine billion people in 2030. The challenge is to do this sustainably.

The new German government and the EU must also face up to this challenge.

Science, trade and industry are already further ahead than politics. Universities are also doing everything they can to integrate the issue of food sustainability into their curricula. For example, the research training group "Sustainable Food Systems" has started its work. According to the website of the University of Göttingen, this is a joint initiative of the Faculties of Agricultural Sciences and Economics at the University of Göttingen, the International Food Policy Institute (IFPRI) in Washington and the KU Leuven in Belgium. An exciting approach. 

This raises the question of how biotechnology is actually communicated by the media in Germany. This communication is necessary to create acceptance in civil society.

A recent article on science communication is a good example of this:
Cameron J. English is the director of life sciences at the American Council on Science and Health. He writes in a post on geneticliteracyproject.org, "...the trend of portraying science as (attitude) journalism must be reversed before the science media lose the rest of its dwindling credibility with the general public."

English recommends four steps to improve science journalism:

 1. avoid "fair-weather science journalism" that builds on an underlying ideological agenda and sidesteps discourse on "non-opportune topics." This would require journalists to question whether they are following an agenda or doing science journalism.

2. not state conclusions as incontrovertible until all facts have been examined. 

3. not to present results in black and white, but to pay attention to the nuances. 

4. and last but not least, exercise caution when calling for the censorship of "fake news".  All too quickly, real scientific discourse can also be affected. 

At the Global Food Summit 2022 in Munich, we want to advance interdisciplinary discourse. We look forward to welcoming everyone - science, media, politics and companies as well as associations - with very different opinions, approaches and agendas again in person.


Your Stephan Becker-Sonnenschein