ASN has invited our partners from the humanities, the sciences and world renowned institutions to participate in stimulating panel discussions to be held daily around the themes of Our Bio-Tech Planet: the Future of Plants and Humans. We will bring into focus for the general public important issues around our world and its controversies, crises, solutions and the possibilities for the future.

What role for “tecnologie di evoluzione assistita” for making Italian agriculture more sustainable and more resilient?


Discussion around the possible role of genome edited plants (tecnologie di evoluzione assistita, TEA) for Italian agriculture and food production. Over the last couple of years extreme weather conditions, and disruptions of supply chains by the pandemic and the war in the Ukraine have made clear that food security will become a topic of highest priority for EU and national policy making. There is also increasing pressure to make agriculture more sustainable, e.g. by reducing pesticide use. This is particularly true for important producers of agricultural commodities and foods, like Italy. Against this backdrop representatives and experts from plant science, agriculture, civil society and policy makers are invited to take a fresh look at how genome edited plants can contribute to tackling these challenges. 

Moderator: Armin Spök

Gut Feelings: Plant Properties and Human Health


Discussion around the legitimacy of the (microbiota-)gut-brain axis and how it can affect global health with special focus on inulin from the chicory root. The Ancient Greek concept of Humorism has fallen out of favor but we are increasingly convinced of the importance of our gut health as vital for our well being. Through changing diet it’s possible we can improve both the mental and physical health of the global population. Mental health took a front seat during Covid19 and a heightened awareness of depression as a global health crisis. Research is being conducted to treat depression in non-traditional ways with one of the dominant suggestions being a dietary change, specifically an increase in prebiotics and microbiota. This approach could also provide a cheaper and more sustainable alternative to current preventative treatments (more than 75% of people in low- and middle-income countries do not have access to existing treatments due to the wealth gap). Natural and affordable nutrients such as inulin could change this and also contribute to tackling other health crises such as obesity, diabetes, and calcium deficiencies.Our panelist experts will discuss this issue from scientific, cultural and global perspectives.

Moderator: Joanna Hoffmann 

The Good Food Model: Bridging the Agroecological Wealth Gap


Discussion on the subject of the challenges, controversies and benefits of new bio-technologies to bridge the agroecological wealth gap with a focus on laws and legislations across the EU and globally. Innovation is key for agroecology and scientists are developing methods by which to improve crops’ survival against pests, their speed of growth, their resistance to threats and their nutritional value. But this is expensive and GMO is still considered controversial. Many countries have laws in place that forbid useful GMO practices. Other countries are only just starting to loosen the restrictions on this including, most recently, Italy and the UK. In this panel discussion our participants consider the questions of NPBTs on the future development of the green economy and explore solutions to the current imbalance of their global distribution, especially in relation to new laws and legislation.

Moderator: Joanna Hoffmann