A. Kjsller, Chairman, GIAM X, Institute of Molecular Biology, Department of General Microbiology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Applied microbiology and biotechnology are scientific disciplines essential in the search for new ways to improve the quality of life through food production and provision with clean water; for better human health including prevention of disease, use of new treatments, and a healthier environment. This is especially important for the growing populations in the developing countries of Africa, Asia and South America. The majority of research in microbiology and biotechnology takes place in the technologically most developed countries and is directed towards the industrialized world; this is especially valid concerning research based on modem equipment which is technologically sophisticated and expensive. The Tenth International Conference on Global Impacts of Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, GIAM X, was held in Elsinore, Denmark between the 6th and 12th of August 1995 with participants from science, industry, agriculture and public services. The conference aimed to promote interest for the use of microbiology in various sectors and to provoke discussion on transfer of technology at all levels of society. About 200 scientists from 50 different countries participated in the conference and approximately one half were representing research in developing countries. It was only possible to invite so many scientists from these countries due to grants from national and international sponsors, UNESCO, UNEP, IUMS, FEMS, DANIDA, NOVONordisk A/S, SAS, the Tuborg, Carlsberg and Plasmid foundations, the Danish Research Center for Microbial Ecology and the University of Copenhagen. The scientific themes of the conference sections focused on: (1) (2) (3) (4)
General Microbiology, Soil Microbiology Environmental Biotechnology Water Supplies and Waste Treatment Food Microbiology and Microbial Products
Two round tables were also organized the titles of which were: @ 1996 Rapid Science
(5) International Biotechnology Development and Regulatory Issues (6) Biotechnology Education and Training Programmes. Keynote papers and some papers selected from the sessions are published in the present volume, all edited after an extensive review procedure. The round table discussions served to generate general conclusions which are briefly summarized: (i) Stimulation of research and education in developing countries suffers from lack of money; the institutions especially need modern equipment, laboratory, workshop and library facilities. The latest technology is attractive but several participants also encouraged the use of simple and homemade equipment to stimulate student creativity. (ii) The education system needs to be strengthened especially at higher levels in order to be able to demonstrate an international profile. (iii) From many countries students are transferred to Australia, Western Europe or North America to work for a PhD degree or parts of it. It is important that these students return to their home countries to participate in the creation of research groups at their institutions. This could be encouraged by supporting research with relevance for foreign students in order to facilitate their return. The ethics in research was discussed especially in relation to the power balance between poor countries and rich countries. When the level of knowledge increases and new techniques are introduced the researchers should be able to evaluate the risks of their own and foreign experiments. A wish was expressed that the legislation concerning GEMS (genetically engineered microorganisms) be the same in all countries to avoid the possibility that developing countries could become experimental fields or ‘dumping grounds’. Several participants stressed the need for competence in these new fields and also access to new technologies. The GIAM X conference was organized by the Department of General Microbiology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. The donors, the local and the international organ-
izing committees are thanked for their efforts to make the conference successful and make the publication of this volume possible. International Advisory Committee: S.T. Chang, Hong Kong; R. Colwell, USA; E. DaSilva, UNESCO; H.W. Doelle, Australia; A.E. Felice, Malta; G. Hamer, Ireland; P. Hijgberg, Sweden; L.V. Kalakoutskii, Russia; A. Kornhauser, Slovenia. National
6 Biotechnology Vd 12. 1996
sity of Copenhagen; Sten Struwe, University of Copenhagen; Birgitte Ahring, Technical University of Denmark; Eli Dahi, Technical University of Denmark; Ole Filtenborg, Technical University of Denmark; Mogens Jacobsen, The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University; Lene Lange, NOVO-Nordisk A/S; Soren Molin, University of Denmark; Jorgen Olsen, University of Copenhagen; Jan Sorensen, The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University; Peter Westermann, University of Copenhagen.