Conference "Science in the Eye of the Storm", Berlin, September 10-11 2014



- please find below the final program of the conference including speakers' presentations; this is work in progress, please be patient with us -

Opening of conference and setting the stage 

Speaker: Angelika Hilbeck (ENSSER / ETH Zurich, Switzerland)

Plenary symposium I

Development towards sustainability - local, regional, global

Chairs: Michael Dittmar (ETH Zurich / conCERNed for Humanity club at CERN, Switzerland); Lucas Wirl (ENSSER) with introduction

Most of us seem to accept that today’s global energy system, based to roughly 90% on the burning of fossil fuels and uranium, is unsustainable. While most of us seem to accept that the dominant energy resources are finite, and that their use leads us to the CO2 problem and other waste related dangerous environmental degradations, our quantitative knowledge about the required transition speed towards a sustainable global, regional and local system is at best very limited. During this session the energetic boundary conditions for this future transition towards a sustainable way of life are discussed.


Michael Dittmar (ETH Zurich / conCERNed for Humanity club at CERN, Switzerland): “Energy resource constraints for a successful transition towards sustainability”

Hartmut Grassl (VDW, former director of Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Germany): “Potential and limits of new renewable energy projects (Solar, Wind, and others)”

 Discussion with the speakers on “the great transition towards sustainability”: “How to live well within the natural boundary conditions?”

Plenary symposium II

Regulations of Genetically Modified Plants and Pesticides - a d(h)aunting neglected issue of risk assessment

Chairs: András Székács (Agro-Environmental Research Institute, NARIC, Hungary), Ricarda Steinbrecher (Econexus, UK)

Current controversial issues around genetically modified crops and food will be discussed, notably their relationship to food security, the claimed substantial equivalence of GM crops to unmodified crops and the hazards and re-evaluation of the associated herbicide Roundup.


Thomas Bøhn (Genøkologi ved Universitetet i Tromsø, Norway): "Substantially Equivalent or not? - The important discussion on comparators"

Nicolas Defarge (CRIIGEN, France): "Conflicts of interests, confidentiality and censorship in health risk assessment. The example of the fate of ‘Long-term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize."

Monika Krüger (University of Leipzig, Germany): "Collateral damages of the herbicide glyphosate in dairy cows, current possibilities to neutralize this contamination"

Eszter Takács (Agro-Environmental Research Institute, NARIC, Hungary): “Pesticide applications by and with genetically modified (GM) crops: misregulated pesticide issues”

Public evening event

The convergence of crises - brewing of 'the perfect storm'?

The current state of crisis involves the convergence of various adverse effects related to the changing climate, land degradation and environmental pollution, continuing perverse economic incentives rewarding ecologically destructive behavior and abuse of human labour - none of these precarious issues act in isolation but converge in as of yet unpredictable ways. A recent study partly funded by NASA took on, for the first time, the challenge to model the convergence of economic and societal asymmetries with environmental crises and compared their findings to the brewing of a 'perfect storm'[1]. ENSSER scientists work across a number of fields and issues that are critical elements of this brewing storm. This evening panel discussion will set the context for the following days of presentations and discussions on selected scientific elements of the brewing storm. Panel members will speak on the following questions: how can and should such 'mega' messages be communicated to political decision makers and the public at large; and how can we influence the research and science agenda setting of Europe? [1]

Chair: Angelika Hilbeck (ENSSER / ETH Zurich, Switzerland) with introduction

Key Presentation: David Gee (former Senior Advisor for Science, Policy and Emerging Issues at the European Environment Agency): “Some common causes, consequences and solutions to the three crises: Financial, Energy/Climate, Ecosystems”

Panelists: Hartmut Graßl (VDW, former director of Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Germany), Brian Wynnefileadmin/files/Science_in_the_Eye_of_the_Storm/PUB_Brian_Wynne_-_ENSSER_BW_Berlin__10_Sept_2014_Science_in_The_Eye_of_The__Perfect__Storm.pdf (Lancaster University, UK), Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker (Co-President Club of Rome, Co-President UNEP Resource Panel, Germany)

Plenary symposium III

Democratizing Research & Science Agenda setting to counter conflicts of interest

Chairs: Steffi Ober (Project Forschungswende, Germany), Caroline Paulick-Thiel (Project Forschungswende, Germany)                           

Today science mainly focuses on technological innovations and efficiency to tackle the grand challenges of society – climate change, decrease of resources, urbanization etc. More societal actors are needed in order to have a cultural change towards sustainability. Changes in the scientific system towards more participatory and transparent structures and involvement of civil society are required.


Simon Pfersdorf (KIT Karlsruhe / Engage 2020, Germany): “Insights from the two EU projects: CONSIDER and ENGAGE2020"

Norbert Steinhaus (Wila Bonn, Germany): Science Shops

Plenary symposium IV

Chemicals and Complexity: towards transparent, consistent and precautionary evaluations of controversial evidence

Chair: David Gee (former Senior Advisor for Science, Policy and Emerging Issues at the European Environment Agency)

Synthetic chemicals of many kinds have not only brought many benefits to society, but also many hazards and problems. The nature and extent of these hazards and problems are increasingly hidden from the public eye, endangering the exercise of precaution. Current examples are the effect of neonicotinoid insecticides on bees and that of bisphenol A on human health.


David Gee (former Senior Advisor for Science, Policy and Emerging Issues at the European Environment Agency): "Chemicals & Complexity: towards transparent, consistent, & precautionary evaluations of controversial evidence"

Laura Maxim (Institut des Sciences de la Communication du CNRS, Paris)

Paul Whaley (Lancaster University, UK): "Appraisal of the methodological quality of literature review and data synthesis in the European Food Safety Authority's risk assessments of bisphenol A"

Parallel symposium V

Exposure and effects of genetically modified plant residues in aquatic ecosystems 

Chairs: Frieder Hofmann (TIEM GmbH, Germany), Mathias Otto (German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, Bonn, Germany) with introduction

An aspect of GM crops that has been receiving growing attention in recent years is the influence of GM plant residues on natural water ecosystems. Recent research in this field will be presented in this symposium.


Thomas Bøhn (Genøkologi ved Universitetet i Tromsø, Norway): "The freshwater water flea Daphnia magna as an integrative model in biosafety testing of GM crops – the case of Roundup Ready GM soy"

Frieder Hofmann (TIEM GmbH, Germany): "Exposure of Bt-maize residues to aquatic ecosystems and selection of freshwater ecosystems for an environmental risk assessment (ERA) of GM crops"

Angelika Hilbeck (ETH Zurich; Switzerland): "Selection of aquatic testing organisms in context of environmental risk assessment of GM crops on aquatic systems"

General discussion: "Future demands for risk assessment and management of GM crops and aquatic ecosystems"

Parallel symposium VI

Democratising medical science

Chairs: Ivan Wolffers (publicist, physician and former professor Healthcare and Culture, VU University Amsterdam), Lukas Fendel (UAEM Europe)

Medical science is rife with conflicts of interest, leading to numerous problems related to accountability, affordability, and accessibility and making it increasingly one sided and focused on products (medicines), while ignoring prevention and the role of lifestyle. We will explore the spectrum of problems and present ideas of how to shape medical science in the public interest.


Lukas Fendel (UAEM Europe): "On the Road towards an Equitable, Needs-driven Biomedical R&D Paradigm. Trends, Threats and Opportunities"

Peter Tinnemann (Charité University Medical Center in Berlin, Germany): “Corporate capture of health: Pharmaceutical companies threaten freedom and reputation of independent health research globally”

Ivan Wolffers (publicist, physician and former professor Healthcare and Culture, VU University Amsterdam): “The mismatch between medical research and health needs”

Plenary closing session

The convergence of solutions

Structured, moderated discussion to connect to the conference themes discussed in the public evening session on the first day. What will it take to democratize science and research agenda setting at EU level? What can and should ENSSER do to influence this?

Chair: Diederick Sprangers (ENSSER)