This document summarises the 12th email conference of the FAO’s e-forum on biotechnology, which took place during January and February 2005. The topic was public participation, and particularly the involvement of people in rural areas. Some 70 international participants contributed to the discussion, and the points they raised are summarised here.


These include the appropriate degree and nature of involvement by rural people in policy-making on issues to do with genetically modified organisms (GMOs); the type of information such groups would need in order to participate effectively; the quality of such information and the problems caused by ‘misinformation’ about GMOs; and the appropriate channels and mechanisms for engaging with rural groups, along with the costs involved.


As with all the FAO e-forum conferences, this discussion provides a valuable insight into the range of opinions, experience and expertise involved in the process of public participation, seen from both an international an local perspective. The document therefore provides a valuable introduction to the areas of consensus and disagreement, which policy-makers, journalists, educators and others will all find useful.