The European Environmental Mutagen Society (EEMS) was founded in 1970 by the late professor Frits H Sobels as an organization that promotes both fundamental and applied research in the fields of environmental mutagenesis and genetic toxicology.
The foundation of the Society was the result of discussions between a small group of geneticists and toxicologists who were seriously concerned about possible long-term adverse biological effects of chemicals in the human environment.
The main goal of the new Society was to study and evaluate potential genetic and carcinogenic hazards to man due to exposure to the increasing number and variety of chemicals in our environment. The European society is organized as an umbrella covering local european societies (per country) and associated with other international societies aiming at the same objectives within the International Associations for Environmental Mutagen Societies (IAEMS).
Some Belgian scientists attended regularly the meetings of the EEMS from the beginning, in particular the team of Professor Moutschen (Université de Liège). It is at one of these meetings (Edinburgh 1977) that Dr. Degraeve from the Liège group contacted me and suggested that also Belgium should have a national section and society. He put all his efforts in the creation and development of the BEMS. These efforts received a maximal support from professor Frits H Sobels and were very successful. Many laboratories and industries joined the BEMS, co-organized annual meetings, sponsored the society and the workshops. Special sessions and grants were organized to encourage young scientists. Moreover 2 european EEMS meetings took place in Belgium, one at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in 1986 and one the University of Ghent in 2001. Members of the BEMS had a significant contribution at the international level as delegates to the EEMS council, secretary of EEMS (Marlies De Boeck), president of EEMS and vice-president of IAEMS (Micheline Kirsch-Volders). This would never have been possible without a dynamic and friendly collaboration among all the members of the BEMS.