9th GMO Free Europe Conference

 (Alphabetical order)

Ursula Bittner, Donau Soja Association, Austria

Since 2011 Ursula Bittner is Secretary General of the Austrian Soya Association and the Donau Soja Association. She holds a degree in International Development from the University of Vienna with specialization in agriculture, European agriculture policy and food sovereignty and a MBA degree in general management of the California Lutheran University, US. Furthermore, she completed the diploma program for International Relations at the Diplomatic Academy. In the last years she travelled to India, Brazil, Argentina, Japan, Taiwan and China for researching in agriculture and mainly soya in the global context. Bittner advocates a sustainable, regional and GM-free protein supply in Europe and a healthy and plant-based diet. 

Presentation: Donau Soja - Production chain perspective

Tanja Busse, Journalist, Author, Moderator, Germany

Moderator of the Plenary sessions on the 7th

Tanja Busse was born in 1970 in Bad Driburg, Germany. She studied journalism and philosophy in Dortmund, Bochum and Pisa, followed by an apprenticeship at the public broadcasting station WDR (Westdeutscher Rundfunk) in Cologne, Düsseldorf and Bielefeld. In 2000 she successfully finished her doctorate thesis on apocalyptic narratives in the mass media. From 2003 to 2012 she worked as presenter of different radio formats at the WDR. She is a moderator of public events on sustainability, ecology, agriculture, a frequent contributor to the German weekly DIE ZEIT and other papers and radio programs. Busse also wrote a diversity of popular books on agriculture, consumer power, food sovereignty and recently "Die Wegwerfkuh" on industrial farming in Germany.

Ignacio Chapela, Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management UC Berkeley, USA

Ignacio Chapela is a scientist by conviction and aspiring biologist by craft. Associate Professor of Microbial Ecology at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also a Senior Researcher at GenØk, the National Center for Biosafety, Norway. Born as first-generation Mexico Cityan from the mix, common to that country, of indigenous, indigenized and immigrant stocks. Not a science-fiction buff, Ignacio belongs to the group of practicing scientist who find more wonderment in what exists than in what someone can write onto a page. This can create some trouble, since it tends to make people like him acutely sensitive to the loss of diverse biologies, ideologies, imaginations. They are also prone to stare at things beyond polite limits, and to have an affinity for complexity and non-linear storylines, the stuff of real ecology. Ignacio has worked as a biologist at various levels of commitment with a large range of institutions including: indigenous communities in Latin America, public education and public research institutions (in Mexico, Wales, the US, Norway, costa Rica and Venezuela), private industry (in Switzerland), public policy national and multinational bodies (UNDP, Panamerican Health Organization, World Bank), and multiple foundations and think-tanks. In ecology, he is committed to the synecological approach to story-telling, just as he is committed to the local approach to ecological policy-making. How to perform synecological research on microbes seems to have been his life-long occupation.

Florian Faber, ARGE Gentechnik-frei, Austria

Florian Faber is Managing Director and co-founder of ARGE Gentechnik-frei (Association for GMO-free Food Production), the Austrian platform for the labeling of Non-GMO food and feed products. ARGE Gentechnik-frei was founded in 1997 and has been Europe's first labeling and monitoring system for Non-GMO products for many years. Currently, more than 3.500 food products use the label "Produced without GMO"; Austria's complete dairy, egg and poultry production are fully GMO-free. Florian Faber is a communications and campaigning specialist, focusing on sustainability, food and health issues. Before moving into consulting and founding ARGE Gentechnik-frei, Florian has worked as Communications Director for Greenpeace Austria and has assisted to shape the communications strategy of many international Greenpeace campaigns. His consulting agency alphaaffairs represents major national and international brands, with a strong focus in the food & beverage, health and CSR business segments.  

Lili Fuhr, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, Germany

Lili Fuhr is heading the Ecology and Sustainable Development Department of the Heinrich Böll Foundation's headoffice in Berlin. She is also a member of the Board of the ETC Group and a founding member of the Climate Justice Fund. In her work for the Heinrich Böll Foundation she focusses on International Climate, Energy and Resource Politics globally. Lili studied Geography, Political Science, Sociology and African Studies in Cologne, Tübingen, Strasbourg and Berlin. She was born in 1980 in Cologne, Germany, has two daughters and lives in Berlin. She is a co-author of "Inside the Green Economy – Promises and Pitfalls" (2016) and blogs at Klima der Gerechtigkeit (Climate justice) in German.

Benedikt Haerlin, Foundation on Future Farming, Germany

Benedikt Haerlin works for the German Foundation on Future Farming in Berlin, Germany. He co-ordinates the European initiative "Save our Seeds" to keep seeds free of GMOs and works on European Agricultural Policy issues and networks. He represented NGOs in the Worldbank and UN led IAASTD from 2002-2008. Haerlin was the global coordinator of Greenpeace International’s Genetic Engineering Campaign from 1996 to 2002 and worked for the organisation since 1990. From 1984 to 1989 Haerlin served as a Member of the European Parliament (Green Group), where he first specialized in genetic engineering issues. Before he worked as a journalist and editor.

Jack A. Heinemann, University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Jack A. Heinemann is a professor of genetics and molecular biology in the School of Biological Sciences, Director of the Centre for Integrated Research in Biosafety at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Served the UN Roster of Biosafety Experts (to 2009), on the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Risk Assessment and Risk Management (to 2016). Prepared two commissioned reports for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO). Lead author on Chapter 6 of the Global Report, and of the biotechnology section of the Synthesis Report, for the International Assessment on Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD). Biotechnology advisor on occassion to governments in New Zealand and Australia, and agencies of the US, India and Norwegian governments. Approximately 100 scholarly publications. Proud mentor of many graduate students. Recipient of the ICAAC Young Investigator Award from the American Society for Microbiology and the New Zealand Association of Scientists Research Medal.

Angelika Hilbeck, European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility, Switzerland

Angelika Hilbeck is a senior scientist and lecturer at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland, where she leads the group ‘Environmental Biosafety and Agroecology’ at the Institute of Intergrative Biology. She holds a Master in Agricultural Biology from the University of Hohenheim, Germany, and a PhD degree in Entomology from the North Carolina State University. Prior to her academic career she completed a 2-year vocational education and training as a vegetable gardner. Since almost 30 years, her research focuses on biosafety and risk assessment of GMOs in the context of agroecology and biodiversity. Through numerous research and capacity building projects she has been engaged in several developing countries in Africa, South America and Vietnam. She was a lead author of the Global Chapter 3 and Synthesis Report on Biotechnology of the International Assessment Agricultural Science Technology for Development (IAASTD), a UN-funded and lead global project. She is co-founder and past chairperson of the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER), co-founder of Critical Scientists Switzerland (CSS) and on the board of directors of the Swiss development organisation 'Bread for All'.

Nina Holland, Corporate Europe Observatory, Belgium

Nina Holland holds a master's degree in Environmental Sciences from Utrecht University. She now works with Corporate Europe Observatory, a research and campaign group based in Brussels that aims to expose and challenge the privileged access and influence enjoyed by corporations and their lobby groups in EU policy making. Her focus is on lobbying by agribusiness and food industries covering issues like pesticides, food labeling and GMOs. She is involved with in various grassroots initiatives at local level such as on sustainable and just food systems and air quality. 

Alexander Hissting, VLOG – Association Food without Genetic Engineering, Germany

Alexander Hissting is Managing Director of Verband Lebensmittel ohne Gentechnik e.V. (VLOG – German Association Food without Genetic Engineering). He is a trained farmer and agricultural engineer and is promoting GMO-free agriculture and food production since 25 years. He has worked for Greenpeace Germany for eight years as an agriculture campaigner befor he started consulting food industry on sustainability strategies with his Berlin based company grüneköpfe Strategieberatung. Since 2010 he is managing the VLOG.

Juliette Leroux, Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament, Belgium

Juliette Leroux is an agronomist, with a specialisation in environmental issues. She worked more than 13 years for the French organic farmers association (FNAB), first as a regulation officer, then as an EU officer, while also being in charge of the GMO issue. She was a member of Inf'OGM board for 5 years. She is now the GMO campaigner for the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament, and has notably been working on the issues of GMO assessment, GMO authorisation procedures at EU level, patenting of seeds, and gene editing techniques. She is particularly interested in the narratives and mantras used to push GMOs forward, such as "We need to feed the world" or "Being against GMOs is being against progress".

Presentation: New GMOs - EU legal situation

Janet Maro, Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT), Tanzania

Janet Maro is the Executive Director of an Award winning Organization, Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT). In 2011, she launched the SAT, a local Not-for-profit organization to make it possible to act on a national level with the goal that small scale farmers are able to feed their families, which can improve peoples' livelihoods in a sustainable way. In 2013, she became the finalist for the Tanzania Women of Achievement Awards and the finalist for the Guardian International Development Achievement Award. In 2014 she was featured in the National Geographic Magazine titled "The Next Green Revolution" where she talked about ecological organic agriculture. In 2017, the SAT won the first Lush Spring Prize Award for Established projects. Also, she participated in the Extinction Conference and presented about Agroecology Working in Africa.

Heike Moldenhauer, VLOG – Association Food without Genetic Engineering, Germany (copy 1)

Heike Moldenhauer is EU policy advisor of Verband Lebensmittel ohne Gentechnik e.V. (VLOG – German Association Food without Genetic Engineering). She has been head of the section for biotechnology policy at Friends of the Earth Germany for 17 years, and has been a member of the GMO steering group of Friends of the Earth Europe. She received her degree in philosophy and in German language and literature from the Free University in Berlin and works on GMO topics since 25 years. In August 2018 she started at VLOG. 

Presentation: Non-GMO labelling – a functioning tool to keep agriculture GMO-free

Christof Potthof, Gen-ethical Network (GeN), Germany

Christof Potthof is a full staff member of Gen-ethical Network (GeN), based in Berlin, Germany. The organization works on a broad range of biotechnology issues, including genetic engineering in agriculture and food production, reproductive technologies and biopolitics. Christof has a German diploma in biology. He works in several coalitions on the local, regional, national and the European level. Christof is one of the editor‘s of GeNs journal GID (published in German).

Gebhard Rossmanith, Bingenheimer Saatgut AG, Germany

Gebhard Rossmanith studied Horticulture and was professional biodynamic vegetable grower for 20 years before starting as Chief Executive Officer at Bingenheimer Saatgut AG, Germany, a seed company offering exclusively organic seeds and many organic varieties. His special tasks are breeding issues, seed law and politic affairs. Gebhard is also board member of ECO-PB, member of IFOAM EU Seed expert group and IFOAM International Seed Platform as well as working group “new breeding techniques”.

Mute Schimpf, Friends of the Earth Europe, Belgium

Mute Schimpf studied Organic and International Agriculture. After working for several NGOs in Germany (as AbL, the German Member of Via Campesina and with the Catholic Development NGO Misereor).  Since June 2010 she has been a Campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe.

Florian Schütze, Lidl, Germany

Retailer perspective on the 7th

Florian Schütze began his professional career in 2002 at Lidl International having completed an International Bachelor Degree in Business Studies and Marketing at the University of Brighton in the United Kingdom. A globally respected professional, Florian has a proven track record of understanding and working with global supply chains from a retailer perspective, focusing on the integration of social and ecological developments in international food and nonfood supply chains.

Kapil Shah, Jatan, India

Kapil Shah, a missionary to promote organic farming in Gujarat since 1985. He holds an M.Sc. in plant breeding. He wrote/published more than 20 books and educational material, trained hundreds of farmers, organized consumer awareness programmes and producer-consumer networks.

He was instrumental in stopping a project under which a multinational seed giant was distributing non-recommended Hybrid Maize seeds using Govt. funds to chemicalize tribal agriculture and convinced Govt. not to allow GM food crop trials in Gujarat. He is also a Member of several Govt. committees and a founding member of two largest organizations active in Organic and anti-GM movement, namely, Alliance of Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) and Organic Farming Association of India (OFAI)

Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), Canada

Lucy Sharratt is the Coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, also known as CBAN. CBAN brings together 16 diverse groups - farmer associations, environmental and social justice organizations, and coalitions of grassroots groups - to research, monitor and raise awareness about issues relating to genetic engineering in food and farming. Lucy previously worked as a campaigner and researcher on this issue at the Sierra Club of Canada and the Polaris Institute in Ottawa. Lucy also coordinated the International Ban Terminator Campaign which reaffirmed and strengthened the global moratorium on genetically engineered sterile seed technology.

Ricarda A Steinbrecher, EcoNexus, UK

Ricarda Steinbrecher is a molecular geneticist and developmental biologist based in the UK. Since 1995 she has worked on GMOs, their risks and potential consequences to health, food security, agriculture, biodiversity and ecosystems and issues related to patents. Her recent focus has been on new GM technologies, gene drives and synthetic biology. Other fields of expertise are GM trees, GM mosquitoes, Terminator technologies (GURTs - genetic use restriction technologies). She has engaged in the UN-led international negotiations and implementation of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety of genetically modified organisms since 1995 and served on its Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG) on Risk Assessment and Risk Management of Genetically Modified Organisms 2008-2013. She is on the board of directors of several organisations, including ENSSER (European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility). She is presently co-director of EcoNexus and represents the Federation of German Scientists at UN meetings and international negotiations.

Beatrix Tappeser, President of the European GMO-free Regions Network, State Secretary at the Hessian Ministry for the Environment, Climate Change, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, Germany

Plenary Sessions on the 7th

Beatrix Tappeser is the President of the European GMO-free Regions Network. After completing her doctorate in biology at the University of Bonn, she became a Research Associate at the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry in the Department of Medical Research at the University of Berlin. She was a research scientist for ‘The Green Party’ in the German Parliament for the Enquête-Commission on the ‘Opportunities and risks of genetic engineering’. She was a board member and executive vice speaker of the Öko-Institut e.V. (Institute for Applied Ecology) from 1987-2004, where she coordinated the work on genetic engineering. Her main area was the technology assessment of genetic engineering in agriculture, food and the impact on biodiversity and the possibility of risks when used in a closed system. From 2004 to 2014 she was head of division at the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation. Since January 2014 she works as State Secretary at the Hessian Ministry for the Environment, Climate Change, Agriculture and Consumer Protection.

Pauline Verrière, IFOAM EU, Belgium

Pauline Verrière studied international and environmental law and worked for six years for Inf’OGM, a French NGO specialized on GMOs as legal officer and journalist. Since 2017, she is Policy Officer at IFOAM EU in charge of GMOs, new genetic engineering techniques, patents and seed.