Europeans aren’t big fans of biotechnology. They never embraced it the way North America did. And despite about 20 years of apparently safe production and consumption here, some people still aren’t convinced.

But don’t tell that to the good people of Ghent. Ghent is popularly called Europe’s Cradle of Biotechnology. Tucked away in north Belgium, it’s distinguished by numerous biotechnology initiatives including the Institute for Agriculture and Fisheries Research, a Flemish scientific institute.

Last week, a small army of scientists from the institute were more than happy to crawl out of bed on a sunny Sunday morning, and come into work to enthusiastically explain their biotechnology-based feed-the-world activities to a group of 120 agricultural journalists from around the world. I was among them, visiting as part of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists annual congress, held this year in Belgium (and next year in Canada, in Guelph and Niagara Falls, in September).

I write about the encounter with the Belgian scientists in my Urban Cowboy column in today’s Guelph Mercury.

Below, I’m pictured interviewing plant scientist Dr. Mark De Loose (that’s water he’s drinking) at the institute in Ghent. Thanks to IFAJ 2010 organizers for the photo.