The debate about GM Food is not simple. It’s been going on for decades and there are a large and diverse number of opinions on the subject. Some of the people holding opposing views are sometimes distrustful of each other.
It is important for this Q&A discussion to be comprehensive and balanced. We need to have an group of experts that can discuss all aspects of the GM Food debate. We need to ensure that a wide range of views are represented. It’s not been quick or easy but we’ve done the following to try and ensure that we’ve got the right experts:
Nominations – From the outset we’ve invited nominations from anyone. We had 66 nominations from a wide range of people. Scientists, campaigners, dialogue specialists and interested members of the public. We contacted groups who both support GM Food and those who oppose it and asked for their suggestions. We asked those who were nominated to suggest others if they couldn’t take part.
Advisory Panel – We knew we would need help to get this right. We recruited an Advisory Panel who held diverse opinions on the debate and asked them to work together to help us decide on the scope for the event, the composition of the group of experts and to select those experts from the nominations who they thought would be best placed to answer questions.
Selection – once the panel had agreed the scope and composition of the group of experts we presented them with a list of nominees. They indicated who they felt was right and who they felt was wrong. We then matched those choices against whether the nominees were available and against the agreed general composition of the group. We went back to the panel and asked for more suggestions where there were gaps. We spoke to the nominees to clarify what areas they would cover. Over the period of a week we contacted Institutes, NGOs, individuals to find the people with the right experience, knowledge and availability. Last Friday we spoke with the Advisory Panel and came to a unanimous decision to select the final five experts. Over the weekend and Monday they all confirmed their availability and we are ready to go.