New VIB Fact Series issue: Potato in Africa

The fact series “potato in Africa” provides all essential information on the challenges and potential on potato cultivation in Africa. We discuss potato cultivation on the African continent and elaborate on the diverse challenges and opportunities to potato cultivation and variety improvement that can contribute to a more sustainable, environmentally friendly and economically viable agriculture.


Workshop: Opportunities and challenges for hybrid potatoes in East Africa

The major aim of the workshop is to assess the opportunities and challenges for hybrid potato breeding and cultivation in East Africa from a perspective of ‘responsible innovation’. Responsible innovation in this context seeks to benefit productivity, sustainability, diversity and equity in systems of agriculture, while taking into account the needs and interests of a variety of stakeholders.


April 4 2019 – Trends: Ggo-pionier Marc Van Montagu: ‘Je hoort zoveel dwaze praat over ggo’s’


Guest lecture @ UGent by Prof. Marc Van Montagu: Science, Ideology and Daily Life

It is very important that young people (1st year Biochemistry and Biotechnology) already have a vision about Society and Plant Biotechnology.


November 5 2018 – Weizmann Institute of Science awarded Prof. Marc Van Montagu the title of Doctor Honoris Causa

The Weizmann Institute of Science granted professor Marc Van Montagu the title of PhD honoris causa. The ceremony of conferment took place in Rehovot on the 5th of November 2018 during the annual general meeting of the Institute’s International Board.


‘Well Fed’ Movie Screening & Debate with Filmmakers – 25 September (19:00-22:00)
Are you food privileged or food deprived?
Facing the truth about food security and GMOs in Europe & abroad.

A special movie screening and panel debate about the Dutch documentary “Well Fed” (with English sub-titles), hosted by the International Plant Biotechnology Outreach cell of the VIB (Vlaams Instituut voor Biotechnologie) in partnership with Europabio, as part of European Biotech Week. Filmmakers Karsten de Vreugd and Hidde Boersma explore and discuss the issue of food security and GMOs from a European and global perspective.


Scientific innovation for a sustainable development of African agriculture Thursday 30th and Friday 31st of August 2018

The conference was divided in several topics, each discussing a specific constraint in agriculture: (1) Relevant crops for Africa; (2) Creating new plant varieties through scientific innovation; (3) Improved soil fertility to enhance crop yields; (4) Biotic stresses threatening crop yields; (4) Abiotic stresses threatening crop yields; (5) Mycotoxins, a threat for both human and animal health and (6) Enhancing the nutritional value of important crops for Sub-Saharan Africa


July 16 2018 – Biosafety Short Course at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu, Nigeria

Nigeria is one of the very active countries willing to adopt GM technology to boost its agriculture with Bt cotton that might well be grown very soon in the country. The National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), NEPAD African Biosafety Network of Expertise, Michigan State University and the Godfrey Okoye University organised a workshop aimed at empowering important stakeholders with current information on the safe management of biotechnology for socio-economic development. The workshop was held at the Godfrey Okoye University in Enugu, Nigeria. Marc Heijde from IPBO was invited as a resource person to present “Status of biotechnology and biosafety in Europe” and moderate a session on Public participation in biosafety processes”. This course will hopefully be a start of a long term partnership with Nigeria and the Godfroey Okoye University for implementing plant biotechnology research and Development in the country.


May 6-8 2018 – 7th International Food Legume Research Conference

On May 6-8 2018 at the 7th International Food Legume Research Conference held in Marrakech, Marocco, IPBO was represented by Prof. Fernand Lambein. With his conference talk entitled “Grass pea (Lathyrus sativus): Boon or Bane”, he opened the workshop “Lentil and Grass pea”. During the closing ceremony, Prof. Lambein was honored for his life-time contributions to Lathyrus research by the ICARDA (International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas).


October 22 2017 – Biotech day: IPBO was there!

On October 22nd 2017, Biotech day in Ghent welcomed about 4350 visitors. Young and old had the opportunity to discover how research and food are linked. Several VIB laboratories and companies presented their research and also IPBO was there! At the stand of IPBO, the visitors could discover and taste vegetables and fruits from Africa. Children could fill in a quiz and listen to a 30 minutes lecture “Biotechnology for Africa”.


Movie Screening “Food evolution” and debate about the benefits of and concerns about applying modern biotechnology in agriculture.

The invention of genetic transformation of plants in the early 1980s (Van Montagu and Schell, University of Ghent) has resulted in one of the fastest adoptions of a new technology in the history of agriculture. At the same time, the use of these new techniques also started a global debate about the benefits of and concerns about applying modern biotechnology in agriculture. That global debate continues up to today and has in fact intensified over the years in Europe.

As one of the activities of Biotech Week 2017 we organized a debate on the role of modern biotechnologies in sustainable agriculture, the concept of responsible innovation, and whether the EU can benefit from agricultural biotechnologies and innovation, including GMOs, while maintaining high safety standards on 26th September 2017 at the Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie van Belgie (KVAB) in Brussels.


June 24 2017: Launching of the “Marc and Nora Van Montagu Fund”

Friday, June 24th 2017, the “Marc and Nora Van Montagu Fund” was launched in the BELvue museum in Brussels in the presence of politicians, ambassadors, scientists, colleagues and friends of Marc and Nora Van Montagu. Jo Bury, director of VIB, and Jonathan Gressel, Prof. Em. at the Weizmann institute of Science, emphasized during their talk the importance of Marc Van Montagu for the development of Plant Biotechnology, and the importance of this area for the agriculture for Africa. Marc Van Montagu thanked also his wife Nora, because his career would not have been what is today without her support.
The MNVM fund will foster project development and partnerships with Africa, a mission we can only achieve with the generous contributions of individuals or institutes who support our cause.


8th Meeting of the IOBC/WPRS working group: GMOs in integrated Plant Production

IPBO was co-organizer of the “8th Meeting of the IOBC/WPRS working group: GMO’s in integrated plant production”. The following topics were be covered during the meeting: (i) Modern biotechnology in integrated crop management; (ii) Risk assessment of GM plants including products from the public sector; iii) Plant protection products produced by GMOs, including microbials and microorganisms; (iv) Plants using RNAi technology to provide pathogen or insect resistance; (v) New plants derived from biotechnology (including genome editing) and their potential for IPM; (vi) Insect resistance management strategies of GM crops and (vii) GM insects for agriculture.  


IIBN 2017 Forum: Biotechnology: From innovation to industrial production l 10 May 2017 l Ghent, Belgium  

In many parts of the world a knowledge-based bio-economy is emerging using eco-efficient bio-processes and renewable biological resources to create new value chains. These innovations are enabled by unprecedented advances in biotechnology offering new technological solutions for sustainable agricultural development and the production of food, feed, fiber, energy and improved health care from renewable biomass or underutilized biological resources.
The 2017 IIBN Forum brought together experts in the area of biotechnology who addressed the industrial chain from innovation to the market side. The focus was to promote value creation beyond food production to support sustainable development in Africa and other developing countries.


East African scientists and regulators attented an advanced biosafety course

On November 4-13 2016, a 10-day course, organized by IPBO in collaboration with UGent and CIP (International Potato Center), took place in Entebbe, Uganda.
This course was funded with support of VLIR-UOS, the International Potato Center, the 2 Blades Foundation, Ghent University and the Flemish Institute of Biotechnology (VIB).


Second Conference of the International Society for Plant Molecular Pharming l 25-27 May 2016 l Ghent, Belgium

During this scientific meeting, the state of the art of leading molecular farming projects will be presented in oral and poster sessions, providing a platform for dissemination of the latest developmental trends but also offering the opportunity for budding groups and young researchers to showcase their research and develop their network. The conference will cover different topics including antibody and vaccine production, modified glycosylation, secondary metabolites, clinical trial results, intellectual property rights and tech-transfer, and a panel discussion by experts in the field will complete the meeting. During a ‘meet-the-expert lunch’, the participants will also have the opportunity to interact with technical experts in protein purification and antibody library screening, answering the technical queries of the attendees. In all, we aspire to provide a comprehensive coverage of science around the interdisciplinary topic of plant molecular farming covered by expert speakers in the field.


UMIP awarded Prof. Marc Van Montagu the title of Doctor Honoris Causa  

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UMIP (Universidad Internacional Menédez Pelayo) awarded Marc Van Montagu the title of Doctor Honoris Causa during the summer course “Agrobiotechnology and Bioeconomy” held in Santadar in July 2015. Marc Van Montagu delivered also the opening lecture “The Sustainable Development Goals” during that summer course.


Prof. Marc Van Montagu received the Iran Agriculture Gold Metal  

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Marc Van Montagu has been awarded with the Iran Agriculture Gold Metal from H.E. Mahmood Hojjati, Agricultural Minister of Islamic Republic of Iran, during the 9th Biotechnology Congress of Iran.


IPBO contributed to the VIB initiative “Science on the road”  

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With the project “Science on the road” (= Wetenschap op stap” in Dutch), VIB wants to make young children familiar with science. International studies demonstrated that especially at the age of 11 and 12, the interest of children for science is created. Therefore, a “real scientist” visits a group of students and tells them in 2-3 hours about his/her research.


IIBN forum 2015

Genetically Modified (GM) crops were commercially cultivated on over 180 M Ha in 2014, by both small and large-scale farmers. Since 2012, over half of the GM crops are cultivated in emerging and developing countries. Commercialized GM crops are protected by Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and governed by comprehensive (inter)national biosafety regulations. The US patent on one of the first and most widely used GM crops, Roundup Ready soybean, recently expired. IPR on additional GM crop products will expire in the (near) future, thus opening the prospect of a GM crop generics industry. Similar to the pharmaceutical industry, the development of a generic market for GM crops could become a game-changer in the agricultural sector by providing GM crop products at reduced cost and by creating new opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises. This, in turn, could help address concerns by public interest groups related to GM crops and seed/food sovereignty.
The 2015 IIBN Forum brought together leading experts in the area of agricultural biotechnology to assess the opportunity and conditions for establishing a generic market for GM crops, in particular to support sustainable agricultural development in emerging and developing economies.


Merging ecology and biotechnology for a sustainable agriculture.


Prof. Marc Van Montagu appointed as UNIDO Goodwill Ambassador for Agribusiness

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Marc Van Montagu, Founder and Chairman of IPBO, has been appointed “Goodwill Ambassador for Agribusiness” by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
LI Yong (General Director of UNIDO): “We want to recognize a remarkable carreer that has brought such dramatic improvements to the lives of the rural poor around the world. By bestowing this recognition on Professor Van Montagu, we want to highlight, from the perspective of UNIDO, the impact of biotechnology on the food and agribusiness industries of the 21th century and beyond” .


Forum 2013

On November 13th 2013, more than 150 people came together in Ghent, Belgium, to attend the Forum “30 years of Plant Biotechnology, A Forum on Global Agriculture and Forestry”, organized by IPBO. Em. Prof. Marc Van Montagu and colleagues invited 11 leading speakers, who shared their viewpoints on priorities and action points needed to harness innovations in green biotechnology for developing economically viable and environmentally sustainable forestry and farming systems in emerging and developing countries.