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March 26, 2009


Lomborg on Biotech; A New Food Deal; Are Current Rules Adequate?; What Brits Think; Failure of Organic Pesticides Heal, Fuel, Feed


* Another 'Green Revolution'
* Why the Developing World Needs A New Food Deal
* Are Current Rules Adequate to Regulate Genetic Engineering?
* Another View: Feeding, Fueling, Healing
* Borlaug Turns 95, Lends Name to $10 Million Monsanto Scholars Grant
* What (Brits) People Think About Emerging Food Technology
* Test Failures A Threat for Organic Pesticides
* Mauritius to Implement Biosafety Framework
* Kenya: Agribusiness Leaders Back GM Law
* Heal, Fuel, Feed the World: BIO Meets in Atlanta

Another 'Green Revolution'

- Bjorn Lomborg, National Post, March 25, 2009 http://www.nationalpost.com

'Scientists believe that the planet's requirements for agricultural production could be met through genetic
modification --if environmental activists don't keep it from happening'

Shortly after the Second World War, a "Green Revolution" began to transform agriculture around the globe, allowing food production to keep pace with worldwide population growth. By means of irrigation, fertilizers, pesticides and plant breeding, the Green Revolution increased world grain production by an astonishing 250% between 1950 and 1984, raising the calorie intake of the world's poorest people and averting serious famines.

The revolution's benefits have tapered off, however, as the number of mouths to feed has grown ever larger and as conventional breeding of new plant varieties has produced diminishing returns. What's needed is a new revolution. Luckily, most agricultural scientists believe that the planet's requirements for agricultural production could be met through genetic modification (GM) -- if environmental activists don't keep it from happening.

The conventional plant breeding of the Green Revolution, itself a more primitive form of GM, produced high-yielding strains of rice, corn and wheat. These were "dwarf " versions of traditional crops with shorter stems that performed better in irrigated, fertilized soil. American agronomist Norman Borlaug introduced the high-yielding varieties to Mexico, Pakistan and India and was eventually awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. In a 2004 tribute on the occasion of Borlaug's 90th birthday, the U. S. Senate declared, "It is very likely that Dr. Borlaug is directly responsible for saving more lives than anyone else in the 20th century."

Today, continuing on GM's well-trodden path, biotechnology offers the hope of increased food production with less environmental damage. Where scientists once crossbred plants through a slow process of trial and error to get the genes for a desired trait, today's breeders can isolate precisely the genes they want and insert them directly into the plant.

The possibilities are enormously exciting. Plants could grow sustainably in areas left out of the first Green Revolution--in sub-Saharan Africa, for example, where the need is great. Farmers could grow plants that are resistant to disease or drought and don't need chemical fertilizers. Genetic modification also offers the potential of consumer-focused improvements, such as staple crops fortified with extra nutrients.

Genetically modified food has been consumed for years by hundreds of millions of American consumers. The crops are also grown in 22 other countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China and India. The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications estimates that more than 50 million farmers around the world planted genetically modified crops last year. These crops include herbicide-tolerant canola, allowing farmers to achieve higher crop yields and use fewer chemicals; corn with a built-in natural insecticidal protein to protect it from borer and root worm without spray insecticide; and rice with extra iron and a protein that increases iron uptake, which is especially promising because of the widespread problem of iron deficiency.

Though no known health problems have resulted from eating crops produced by GM, scare-mongering about the practice is widespread. In much of Europe, the campaign against genetic modification has had considerable success: England's Prince Charles proclaims with imperial certainty that genetic modification is "guaranteed to cause the biggest disaster environmentally of all time," and the specter of "Frankenfood" has all but driven GM edibles from the European marketplace.

More troubling, both Zimbabwe and Zambia have blocked food aid that wasn't certified free of genetically modified material. During a drought in 2002, Zambia's then-president, Levy Mwanawasa, rejected U. S. food aid, saying that the hunger of his people was "no justification to give them food that is intrinsically dangerous to their health." It wasn't until Dec., 2005, that Zambia reversed course in the face of further famine and allowed the importation of genetically modified corn.

Such opposition to GM is particularly counterproductive now. In 2008, malnutrition in mothers and their young children claimed 3.5 million lives. Global food stocks reached historic lows last year, and food riots erupted in West Africa and South Asia. Consumers in transitional economies like China and India are demanding more than subsistence diets, and drought has hindered Australian crop production. Progress is distressingly slow on the United Nations' goal of halving the proportion of hungry people by 2015.

Of course, before we adopt genetically modified foods, we should always test them rigorously for their potential impact on the environment and on people's health. But it would be criminal to disregard the hope that biotechnology offers to the world's most malnourished people.

"Some of the environmental lobbyists of the Western nations are the salt of the Earth, but many of them are elitists," Borlaug once memorably said, referring to critics squeamish about the tools that he used during the Green Revolution. "They've never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for 50 years, they'd be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists back home were trying to deny them these things."

Bjorn Lomborg, an adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School, is the author of The Skeptical Environmentalist and Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming.


Why the Developing World Needs A New Food Deal

- Sylvain Charlebois, Globe and Mail (Canada), March 26, 2009 http://www.theglobeandmail.com

Surging food prices around the world last year wreaked havoc among the global poor. Economic conditions triggered riots in the tropics, including Cameroon, and the government fell in Haiti. Developing countries are significantly vulnerable to external economic and political factors, but they may have scientific means of taking more control over food production.

Given the prospect of growing populations and unpredictable markets, developing countries are seeking ways to produce more commodities with fewer resources. For a growing number of farmers in the southern hemisphere, particularly Africa, genetically engineered crops may provide the best possible solution to increasing food costs.

Some advocacy groups conjure up the spectre of Frankenfoods to support claims these foods should be outlawed. Worrisomely, many developing countries appear to believe these groups when they say genetically engineered foods can't play a key role in dealing with world hunger. As a result, there is resistance to developing this food technology.

But evidence supporting the use of genetically engineered crops to cope with climate change and economic challenges is now overwhelming. Even Europe is shifting.

Agricultural experts concur that conventional methods are no longer sufficient. With the Earth's population set to exceed nine billion by 2050, farmable land is vanishing. Erosion could also become a significant factor. Recent predictions suggest that poor countries could lose more than 135 million hectares of arable land over the next 50 years.

These regions are in dire need of pest-resistant crops because of unforgiving climate patterns. Of course, there are risks when dealing with genetically engineered foods, as there is with any new technology. But, so far, no evidence of health dangers has been found from growing or eating approved engineered crops.

Undoubtedly, any ecological or health consequences of these products need to be constantly monitored. But the bottom line is, all crops are the result of some type of DNA alteration, and activists who denounce the manipulation of crop DNA as unnatural should recall the history of agriculture and think about the human costs of their stands. Another issue with genetically engineered food is the dominant role of multinationals. While increased corporate concentration is inevitable, its ramifications must be addressed.

Biotechnological research led by multinationals toward actually increasing agricultural output is negligibly small, compared with the development of engineered seed stocks that are herbicide-tolerant and pest-resistant. This practice enables the industry to offer the sale of its seed stocks, fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides as integrated package solutions to farmers without acknowledging the need for more useful products.

As a result, agriculture in the southern hemisphere is becoming economically more dependent and ecologically more vulnerable, while wealthier countries are becoming economically independent and more prosperous. So it is relevant to view biotechnology in the contexts of North-South relations, a globalized market economy, cultural diversity and economic asymmetry.

More endowed countries such as Canada have a role to play. Science has improved our quality of life, and developing countries should benefit as well. There is a growing need to address the problems of the developing world through funding for technical support to set up regulatory systems and bio-safety measures, and to develop agribiotech research and development suitable to those countries' needs. Canada has valuable expertise in biotechnology and can make a difference.

Africa is now the only continent in the world with a growing number of people suffering from hunger. That in itself is good news, but more should be done for Africa and the developing world so they can cope with agricultural scarcities.

A new deal is slowly emerging, one that expands our notion of "us" to include the entire human race. As a result, genetically engineered foods must be allowed to develop so our globalized economy can flourish.
Sylvain Charlebois is associate dean, Kenneth Levene Graduate School of Business at the University of Regina


Are Current Rules Adequate to Regulate Genetic Engineering?

The Next Generation

- Gregory Jaffe,The Environmental Forum, Match/April 2009 Volume 26, Number 2. The Policy Journal of the Environmental Law Institute (Gregory Jaffe is Director of the Biotechnology Project at the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, D.C.). Introductory para below. Full paper at http://www.cspinet.org/biotech/articles.html

U.S. regulatory agencies have reviewed genetically engineered crops by adapting existing laws to address potential safety questions, but those procedures have not resulted in adequate oversight. With a second generation of GE crops in prospect, the federal government needs to improve its regulation to ensure safe products from a promising technology

In the past dozen years, genetically engineered crops have become part of mainstream agriculture in developed and developing countries alike. Farmers have planted GE crops on millions of acres and the majority of the risks raised by critics have not been borne out. While not all the advantages touted by the developers have materialized either, significant benefits have been documented. GE crops are here to stay.

Developers are set to move forward with the second generation of GE products. The first generation mostly benefited farmers and included plants that produce their own pesticides or are resistant to herbicides. The second generation could move far beyond those achievements. For crops, that means traits such as drought-tolerance and enhanced nutrition. Then on to engineered meat and dairy animals and drugproducing biopharming. Are current rules adequate to regulate these activities? It is time to revisit the debate about genetic engineering in agriculture.

To date, GE crops have been managed under the Coordinated Framework for Regulation of Biotechnology, a 1986 federal policy that calls on the Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, and Department of Agriculture to regulate GE products using existing laws. The framework has attempted to ensure the safety of first-generation crops but can it adequately regulate upcoming products? With products looming on the horizon that may be more controversial and raise more potential risks than current ones, public understanding of current GE crops and their regulation as well as the potential for new benefits (and new risks) is critical to U.S. leadership in biotechnology as well as to protecting the environment and public health. (cut)

More at http://www.cspinet.org/biotech/articles.html

Another View:

Feeding, Fueling, Healing

- Michael Wach (Managing Director of Science and Regulatory Affairs for Food and Agriculture at the Biotechnology Industry Organization in Washington, D.C. )

Since biotech products were first commercializedin 1996, the world has embraced this science because of the proven benefits it delivers to growers and consumers. More than 12 million farmers in 23 countries are using agricultural biotechnology today. In other words, ag biotech is agriculture.

Biotech crops help farmers grow heartier and healthier food. A genetically enhanced virus-resistant papaya literally saved the Hawaiian industry for farmers who suffered devastating losses from a pest. Biotechnology also benefits the environment. Because biotech crops require less cultivation and fewer pesticide applications, farmers save fuel and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

As we look to the future, we see the promise of crops that are more tolerant of drought and flooding and crops that use soil nutrients more efficiently. Foods can also be fortified with more nutrients.

Although animal biotechnology is a much younger segment of this dynamic industry, its promises are equally compelling, and society is just beginning to learn of its benefits. Research with genetically engineered animals has yielded a variety of breakthroughs that can help advance human health, enhance food production, mitigate environmental impact, and optimize animal welfare. In January, the Food and Drug Administration issued the first regulatory guidance governing GE animals. This system ensures the products made available through this science will go through a rigorous and transparent review process before being approved for the marketplace.

All of these societal benefits can be realized with next-generation biotechnologies. But they must first work their way through a complex, rigorous regulatory system. Rules must keep pace with the technology they regulate. But years of experience with the successful and safe deployment of biotechnology indicate that the amount of regulatory oversight in the United States is adequate. U.S.-developed biotech products are so well adopted precisely because our regulatory system results in safe, high-quality products.

The fact is, products derived from biotechnology have been consumed by billions of people for more than 15 years without a single documented health problem. This is a remarkable safety record, but not surprising, given the pre-market examination and testing of biotech products. In spite of the years of costly research needed to bring these products to market, developers want the regulatory scrutiny that provides safety for humans and the environment.

The reality of modern agriculture dictates that this scrutiny makes not for just good science, but also good business. Thoughtful commercial development, with appropriate regulatory oversight, is the best way to continue to bring these valuable products to market, well into the future. Now more than ever, we should embrace the technologies that help us be better stewards of the land, while feeding, fueling, and healing our growing world.


Borlaug Turns 95, Lends Name to $10 Million Monsanto Scholars Grant

- AgNews. Texas A&M Univ, March 25, 2009 http://agnews.tamu.edu

DALLAS - Dr. Norman Borlaug, the Nobel laureate hailed as the father of the "Green Revolution," celebrated his 95th birthday in Dallas on Wednesday.

Borlaug, a researcher and plant breeder, was honored by dozens of friends, relatives, colleagues and dignitaries at the Northwood Country Club for his lifetime commitment to fighting world hunger.

In his name, the Monsanto Company Co. of St. Louis committed a $10 million grant over five years - the Beachell-Borlaug International Scholars Program - to identify and support scientists interested in improving research and production through wheat and rice breeding, company officials said. The grant is also named after Dr. Henry Beachell, a Borlaug contemporary and pioneer plant breeder who died in 2006.

Borlaug, who was greeted by a standing ovation at the luncheon, said he was honored to have his name attached to a scholars program designed to help young scientists improve food production. He added that it will take cooperation across scientific disciplines to meet the ever-growing demand for increased food production as populations boom in countries worldwide.

"Now I ask all of you to pull together," Borlaug said. "There's no room for specific disciplines. We all have to work together, not just for one crop, but for all basic crops. "We must never forget that this population monster is a big threat to the social and economic stability of the world."

"He has inspired us and pushed us to accomplish more," said Dr. Mark Hussey, vice chancellor and dean of the college of life sciences at Texas A&M University, where Borlaug has been a distinguished professor since 1984.
"Happy birthday, Norm," he said.

Hussey read from proclamations and notes sent by Gov. Rick Perry and former president Jimmy Carter. Suzanne Hale, acting administrator for USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service, said Borlaug is one of her heroes. "At USDA, we all take pride in what you've done to feed millions of people all over the world," she said.

Fathers of the Green Revolution
Born March 25, 1914, Borlaug remains active in the fight against world hunger. Along with his work through Texas A&M University, he chairs the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative and remains involved in the World Food Prize and Borlaug Fellows Program established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

He also continues to collaborate with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, and through the SG 2000 partnership of Sasakawa Africa Association and the Carter Center. Currently a resident of Dallas, he is a plant pathologist and plant breeder whose efforts to develop and deliver improved wheat varieties have been credited with saving more than 1 billion people from starvation. Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 in recognition of his contributions. Borlaug was also awarded the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor in 2006. In addition to Borlaug, only four people have been awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, The Medal of Freedom and the Nobel Peace Prize: Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Elie Wiesel.
Beachell was a world-renowned plant breeder whose cultivation of a new rice plant led to greatly increased yields of the crop in developing countries of Asia.

While working for IRRI in the 1960s, Beachell and others crossed rice plants to produce a new variety called IR8. The resulting plant produced more heads of rice on a shorter and stronger stalk. IR8 is credited with savings millions of lives in Asia. For his work, Beachell received the World Food Prize in 1996 with Dr. Gurdev Singh Khush.
The extraordinary contributions of the two men have come to be known as the "Green Revolution."


Happy Birthday Norman Borlaug!


Today (Match 25, 2009) is the 95th birthday of Norman Borlaug, an agricultural scientist who is widely known as the father of the Green Revolution. Dr. Borlaug, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his work on world hunger, is credited with saving over 1 billion lives from starvation through his tireless efforts to improve world food production through biotechnology. Dr. Borlaug is one of only five people in history to have won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.

I'm sure our words cannot do justice to Dr. Borlaug's tremendous contributions to humanity and the environment. So, we'll let him speak for himself:

Also be sure to watch Dr. Borlaug's speech at the Nobel Centenial Symposia in December 2001.

28 Responses for "Happy Birthday Norman Borlaug!


What People Think About Emerging Food Technology

- Food Standards Agency (UK), March 26, 2009 http://www.food.gov.uk/

People remain cautious about the emergence of new food technologies according to a review of existing research, published by the Food Standards Agency.

The report, which looks at research since 1999, brings together knowledge from the UK and beyond, on public opinion about up-and-coming food technologies, such as nanotechnologies and cloning. The findings will help to shape the FSA’s future work on emerging technologies.

According to the research, GM and animal cloning remain the areas of most concern for people. However, the review also showed that food technologies tended not to be a burning issue for the vast majority of people and often did not generate strong opinions.

Clair Baynton, Head of Novel Foods, Additives and Supplements at the Agency, said: 'Our top priority is to ensure the food on the shelves is as safe as it possibly can be, but we also need to be aware of how people feel about new technologies. Because so little tends to be known about emerging food technologies, attitudes towards them are frequently driven by emotions rather than facts. Understandably, people are wary when they’re not sure about the benefits and risks.

'The FSA is working with Government departments and Europe to assess information and potential hazards in relation to the future use of technologies in the food sector.'

The research looked at public opinion concerning:* nanotechnologies * functional foods * synthetic biology * GM * novel food processes ========
Report at http://www.food.gov.uk/science/socsci/surveys/emerge


3 What we found
3.1 The strength of the evidence
Although there is a large body of evidence available on public attitudes to GM foods, evidence on the other technologies reviewed is a lot more limited. In particular, where technologies are used for other applications as well as food (i.e. nanotechnologies, animal cloning and synthetic biology) data on food applications are relatively scarce.

Where data are available, their quality is variable. Studies on functional foods and novel food processes tend to be based on particular products and be very geographically limited and, overall, there is a shortage of large, nationally representative studies, of cross-national research, of longitudinal data and of high-quality qualitative work.

3.2 The public’s views
Overall, the public was found to be wary, uneasy and uncertain about emerging food technologies. Having said this, emerging food technologies tend not to be top-of-mind concerns and, across the technologies that we looked at, people tend not to have strong opinions. Nevertheless, where technologies have many applications, food is often seen as the least acceptable (e.g. GM, cloning) and people often seem unconvinced of benefits (e.g. use of nanotechnologies in food).

Awareness of emerging food technologies is generally low, and the concept of ‘functional foods’ and food applications in synthetic biology seem virtually unknown. The exceptions to this are GM and cloning which most people have heard of, at least in the UK. Nevertheless, people may not realise that they are consuming GM foods, even in the US where GM foods are widely available, and awareness certainly does not mean that people feel confident in their knowledge about these technologies.

On the whole attitudes towards novel food technologies in the USA and in Asian and developing countries seem to be more positive than they are in Europe. There are differences even amongst European attitudes though.

3.3 Differences according to technologies Few studies directly compare the technologies to each other, but the evidence does suggest differences in how they are perceived:
• attitudes are most positive towards functional foods, and it is suggested that this is due to clear consumer benefits and low perceived risk;
• the technologies which give rise to the most concerns are GM and animal cloning, closely followed by synthetic biology (although no data specific to food is available in the case of the latter). These technologies seem to elicit particular moral and ethical concerns and represent the greatest departure from what are perceived to be ‘natural’ or ‘traditional’ foods; • irradiation provokes responses of wariness and is a technology for which there is low understanding.


Test Failures A Threat for Organic Pesticides

- William Surman, Farmers Guardian (UK), March 26, 2009 http://www.farmersguardian.com

NEARLY half of the pesticides specially approved for use in organic farming have failed EU safety tests and more could follow as the rules are tightened, according to the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA).

Most organic food is produced without the use of pesticides but farmers are allowed to use a limited range as a last resort on particular crops. Some pesticides approved for organic farming failed safety tests ‘based on good science’ and more could be removed when rules tighten.

As part of the ongoing assessment of all pesticides, the European Food Safety Authority has approved just 14 of the 27 organic pesticides put before it since the EU’s Plant Protection Products (pesticides) regulations came into force in 1996, although many have received a derogation for continued use. The ECPA said the pesticides had failed the safety tests ‘based on good science’ but warned tighter rules on pesticides due next year could remove more organic pesticides from farmers’ armoury.

It said new pesticides regulation could result in reduced yields and force organic prices up for no good reason. “Our concern is that pesticides could be removed from organic farmers under the new regulation that is not based on rational science or risk analysis,” said an ECPA spokesman. “Organic farmers already have limited options for crop protection and if more products are removed productivity could fall and prices could increase.”

He added the organic industry would find it increasingly difficult to meet food production targets and supply the growing organic market. “We are concerned about sustaining Europe’s ability to maintain a sufficient and affordable food supply if too many pest management solutions are lost too quickly,” he said.


See Also http://www.efsa.europa.eu/EFSA/ScientificPanels/PRAPER/efsa_locale-1178620753812_Conclusions494.htm


Mauritius to Implement Biosafety Framework

- African Press Agency, Port Louis (Mauritius) http://www.apanews.net/

Mauritius will implement a national biosafety framework on the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to ensure that the health of the population and the environment are not put in danger, Agro-Industry and Food Production Minister Satish Faugoo announced on Thursday.

At a workshop organized with the support of the United Nations Environment Programme and Global Environment Facility in Port Louis, Faugoo said GMO crops can be part of the answer in global food security but people must know what they are eating.

He said there is a lingering fear in the public about GMO foods although such concerns are mainly a lack of proper public awareness and information on such foods. He said the government has the responsibility to ensure that the benefits of GMO products outweigh the risks of producing and consuming them.


Kenya: Agribusiness Leaders Back GM Law

- Steve Mbogo, Business Daily Africa, March 26, 2009 http://www.bdafrica.com

Genetically modified foods will eventually provide answers to the food security situation in Kenya, according to agribusiness leaders. Mr Michael Turner, the managing director of Actis East Africa, a private equity fund with interests in agribusiness and other sectors said GM technology will open up arid and semi arid land in Kenya to food production.

“Passing the biodiversity law was a good idea. We have to find a way of making use of more than half of the country which is arid and semi arid,” he said. Kenya’s food security needs have been increasing dramatically over the years, because of the growing population, failure to use farm inputs and the now the climate change which is changing rainfall patters. “We will have no excuse to ignore the technology that can increase our food output,” said Agriculture Minister William Ruto, “This is our future.”

Proponents of the GM food in Kenya say the country has good research capacity to enable local scientists develop GM crops that are specifically suited to the country’s needs. Sidney Quantia, the coordinator of the Kenya Biodiversity Coalition had said earlier that the Biosafety Bill 2008 which was assented by the President Mwai Kibaki in February does not allow labelling of foods produced from genetic modified crops.

Safeguarding Kenyans
“We are not opposed to biotechnology but we want the proposed law to have safeguards for Kenyans,” he said.
Genetically modified (GM) foods are the result of genetic engineering ostensibly to make them withstand harsh weather conditions or boost yields. But this genetic alternation is highly opposed by various groups who say that GM foods could result in new forms of human diseases and affect the growth of flora and fauna.

Kenya Government has strongly supported GM foods and made into law the Biosafety Bill 2008 last month. The basis of the support is that it will increase food production. The argument by the anti-GM lobby is that the country does not yet have regulatory capacity to prevent rogue researchers from bringing into Kenya contaminated GM foods.

The coalition says the law signed this year to allow for GM crops to be grown in Kenya does not allow for labelling of GM crops to help consumers make a choice. There are also specific pesticides used on GM crops. This is seen as being adverse to the predominant smallholder and poor farmers in Kenya. It is seen as a way to create ready market for GM seeds and chemical manufacturers.

However, an almost similar scenario happens when farmers plant hybrid seeds. Although they can be replanted, the yields of these seeds after replanting are less and agriculture extension officers usually encourage farmers to use new seeds every planting season.


Heal, Fuel, Feed the World: BIO Meets in Atlanta

- May 18 -21, 2009. Atlanta, GA http://convention.bio.org

The BIO International Convention is the largest global event for the biotechnology industry and attracts the biggest names in biotech, offers key networking and partnering opportunities, and provides insights and inspiration on the major trends affecting the industry.

The event features keynotes and sessions from key policymakers, scientists, CEOs, and celebrities. Past speakers include President George W. Bush, President Bill Clinton, Michael J. Fox, Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan, and General Colin Powell, among many others. The convention also includes hundreds of sessions covering biotech trends, policy issues and technological innovations, and the world's largest biotechnology exhibition - the BIO Exhibition.

Sessions on Food and Agriculture

* The Value Proposition for Next-Generation Energy Crops: Value Chain and Business Model Considerations
Global Product Stewardship
* Public-Private Partnerships in Agricultural Biotechnology: Going Beyond Development
* Saving Harvests, Lives & Livelihoods: Breakthroughs in Plant Stress Tolerance
* Ag Biotech — Improving Farmers’ Lives
* Genetically Engineered Animals (Livestock) and Public Health
* Challenges and Solutions in Commercializing Genetically Engineered Animals and Their Products
* Advances and Opportunities for AgBiotech in Latin America
* The Bio-Based Economy Is Now
* Plant Science Technologies: Recent Advances that Will Change Our World
* Environment, Economy and Society: Plant Biotechnology’s Role in Advancing Sustainable Development
* Legal and Regulatory Threats to Agricultural Biotechnology in the US