Posts in category Event Archive

Workshop: Pest Management Practices

Bug_BigWorkshop on Comparing the Environmental Effects of Pest Management Practices Across Cropping Systems

The workshop was held on Wednesday, March 4, from 8:15 am-5:15 pm Eastern at the National Academy of Sciences Keck Center.

The major goals of the workshop were to examine trade-offs in pest management approaches for weeds, insects, and diseases and compare environmental effects between different cropping systems, including GE and non-GE systems.

A panel of experts presented on a variety of topics, including: growth of organic, traditional, and genetically engineered (GE) crops; integrated pest management (IPM) practices; cover cropping; weed management and herbicide-resistant weeds; insect ecology in agro-ecosystems; and disease-resistant GE crops. The workshop is related to a separate, ongoing study being conducted by the National Research Council summarizing GE crops.

View agenda here.

Workshop Recap: This Storify collects the tweets and online discussion that took place at the workshop.

Click the links below to view videos of the presentations and discussions.
Norman Scott, Chairman, National Research Council Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources, Workshop Moderator
Keynote: Examining the Environmental Effects of Practices for Controlling Agricultural Pests
May BerenbaumUniversity of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Professor and Department Chair of Entomology. bio

May Berenbaum, Ph.D. has been on the faculty of the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 1980, serving as head since 1992 and as Swanlund Chair of Entomology since 1996. She is known for elucidating chemical mechanisms underlying interactions between insects and their hostplants, including detoxification of natural and synthetic chemicals, and for applying ecological principles in developing sustainable management practices for natural and agricultural communities. Her research, supported primarily by NSF and USDA, has produced over 230 refereed scientific publications and 35 book chapters. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, she has chaired two National Research Council committees, the Committee on the Future of Pesticides in U.S. Agriculture (2000) and the Committee on the Status of Pollinators in North America (2007). Devoted to teaching and fostering scientific literacy through formal and informal education, she has authored numerous magazine articles and six books about insects for the general public. She graduated summa cum laude, with a B.S. degree and honors in biology, from Yale University in 1975 and received a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University in 1980.

Topic: Broad discussion of environmental issues surrounding agricultural production systems. Topics include pesticide residues; biodiversity; emergence of weed resistance and consequences for the environment and production; soil health; soil and nutrient losses; water quality and quantity; energy use; air quality; tradeoffs in yield; scale effects.
 Panel I: Contemporary Practices for Suppressing Weeds
Jay Hill, New Mexico Farmer. bio

Jay Hill is a second generation farmer in southern New Mexico. Jay partners with his father, Jim Hill, on their 750-acre farm started by Jim in 1969. Upon graduation New Mexico State University with a Bachelor of Science degree, Jay returned to Hill Farms in 2008 and took over the reins of the operation. Hill Farms produces more than 18 million pounds of fresh onions annually. In addition to onions, Jay grows world famous New Mexico Green Chile peppers, lettuce, wheat, oats, alfalfa, pinto beans, corn and pecans. In 2012, Jay started a small beef cattle herd, which has grown to 60 head of mother cows.

Topic: Pest management in corn and vegetable production
Steven Mirsky, USDA-ARS, Research Ecologist. bio

Dr. Steven Mirsky conducts cover crop systems research for ecologically based crop and weed management to maintain crop profitability, while enhancing soil and water quality and reducing crop production energetic requirements. His work couples empirical agronomic research in the field, using both a long-term cropping system experiment and additional field trials, with simulation models to optimize agro-ecosystem economic profitability and environmental sustainability.

Topic: Ecologically-based weed management in long-term cropping studies
David Mortensen, Pennsylvania State University, Professor of Weed and Applied Plant Ecology. bio

Dr. Dave Mortensen’s research and teaching focuses on deepening our understanding of ecologically-informed weed management in agriculture and wildlands. Mortensen’s ecologically-based research has been highlighted in international journals (133), Congressional testimony, numerous Congressional briefings and his selection to head up several national competitive grants programs in Washington, D.C. His research and outreach team is actively engaged in field and simulation research assessing sustainable weed management and ecological restoration methods for managing invasive plants along natural gas pipelines and roadway rights of way. In addition, his group is researching methods aimed at quantifying pollinator-plant interactions in an attempt to identify management methods that both enhance and suppress provisioning plants and the bees that depend on them. At Penn State, Mortensen has chaired the Ecology Inter College Graduate Degree Program and teaches Principles of Weed Management, Plant Ecology and the Ecology of Agricultural Systems. Dr. Mortensen received a Master of Science degree from Duke University and a Ph.D. from North Carolina State University. He has served as a faculty member at the University of Nebraska and Penn State University.

Topic: Sustainable weed management in herbicide-resistant cropping systems
Jennifer Schmidt, Maryland Farmer and Registered Dietitian. bio

Jennifer lives on a family farm with her husband and two children. Schmidt Farms is a 3rd generation, large and diverse family farm, including grains, vegetables, hay and wine grapes on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. When she’s not found on a tractor, Jennie spends her time as an “Ag-vocate”, telling the story of agriculture and family farming to consumers, dietitians, and legislators. She is active on social media and with “CommonGround”, a volunteer farm women’s group dedicated to sharing authentic and transparent stories about food and farming. Jennie is Vice President, and the first (and only) female on the Maryland Grain Producers board of directors. She also represents the state of Maryland on the U.S. Wheat Foods Council. She is passionate about connecting people with food and with farming and highlighting the importance of family farming in our food supply. Jennie holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Nutrition and International Agriculture from the University of Massachusetts and completed her Master of Science degree at the University of Delaware in Human Nutrition with a focus on Food and Agricultural Biotechnology.

Topic: Integrating weed, pest, and disease management across crops within farming
Discussion of Environmental Effects, Trade-Offs, and Synergies
Panel II: Insect Management Across Production Systems
Galen Dively, University of Maryland, Professor Emeritus and IPM Consultant. bio

Dr. Galen P. Dively is an emeritus professor in the Department of Entomology at the University of Maryland. He received his bachelor’s degree in biology at Juniata College and doctorate in entomology from Rutgers University. He worked as an Extension Specialist in Agricultural IPM for 34 years. In this role, Dr. Dively developed monitoring and decision-making guidelines to reduce pesticide use in vegetable and field crops, and was involved in numerous IPM educational and demonstration projects. In the mid 90’s, he began field studies to address the ecological and resistance risks of transgenic insecticidal crops, and was the lead or co-investigator on five USDA Biotechnology Risk Assessment Program grants. He also was part of a research team that assessed the impact of transgenic corn on the monarch butterfly, which resulted in six scientific articles that significantly influenced EPA’s science-based decision process regarding re-registration of Bt corn. Since this retirement in 2006, he continues to conduct research on transgenic Bt crops, sublethal effects of pesticides on honey bee colony health, efficacy evaluation of insecticides, and studies addressing information gaps in the biology and management of the invasive brown marmorated stink bug.

Topic: Regional suppression of the European corn borer and its impacts on other host crops due to the Bt corn technology
Jonathan Lundgren, USDA-ARS, Research Entomologist. bio

Jonathan Lundgren is an insect ecologist and Research Entomologist at the USDA-ARS laboratory in Brookings, South Dakota. He received my PhD in Entomology from the University of Illinois in 2004. Lundgren’s professional achievements have resulted in him being awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering (the highest honor given to young scientists by the Office of the President), the Rothbart Early Career Scientist for USDA-ARS, and the Early Career Innovation Award from the Entomological Society of America. For the past two years, he has acted as Panel Manager for NIFA’s Biotechnology Risk Assessment Grants Program and in 2014 Lundgren served on the EPA’s and EFSA’s scientific advisory panels to assess the safety of RNAi-based pesticides and GM plants. Earlier in his career, Dr. Lundgren served on national- and internationally sponsored working groups to A) assess the ecological risk of introducing Bt cotton into Brazil (GMO Guidelines Project), B) evaluate and implement meta-analysis of cross-study trends as a tool for assessing the non-target effects of Bt crops, and I have worked with industry, academia, and regulators on peer-reviewed papers that helped establish risk assessment protocols for Bt crops. He is actively involved in the Entomological Society of America, and his tenure as the President for the International Organization for Biological Control (Nearctic Regional Section) ended in January. Lundgren is an editor for Environmental Entomology, and formally for Arthropod-Plant Interactions, and has reviewed manuscripts for more than 50 scientific journals. Internationally, he was a visiting scientist at CABI in Delemont Switzerland, and with CIAT in Cali Colombia. Currently, Lundgren has written 97 peer-review journal articles, authored the book “Relationships of Natural Enemies and Non-prey Foods” (Springer Publishers), co-edited the Biological Control special issue “Trophic Ecology of the Coccinellidae”, and has received more than $3 million in extramural grant funds. One of his priorities is to make science applicable to end-users, and he regularly interacts with the public, beekeepers, and farmers regarding pest management and insect biology. His research program focuses on assessing the ecological risk of pest management strategies and developing sustainable, long-term solutions for managing pests in cropland, and Lundgren’s ecological research focuses heavily on conserving healthy biological communities within agroecosystems by reducing disturbance and increasing biodiversity within cropland.

Topic: Managing insect communities in the agro-ecosystem
John Tooker, Pennsylvania State University, Associate Professor of Entomology, Extension Specialist. bio

John Tooker is an Associate Professor of Insect Ecology and an Extension Specialist in the Department of Entomology at the Pennsylvania State University. His research group studies relationships among plants, insect herbivores, and natural enemies to understand factors that regulate populations of herbivorous insects. They are interested in both plant- and natural-enemy-mediated factors and how they influence insect behavior, community composition, and herbivore mortality. Their long-term goal is to exploit the ecology/biology of our study organisms to provide strategies and tactics for more sustainable insect pest management.

Topic: Complex ecological effects of pest management approaches
Frank Shotkoski, Cornell University, Director of the Agriculture Biotechnology Support Project II. bio

Frank Shotkoski, Ph.D. is the Director of the Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II (ABSPII) at Cornell University where he directs a USAID funded project with a mandate to commercialize genetically engineered crops in developing countries in Africa and Asia. Before joining Cornell University in 2005, Frank worked as the Global Cotton Traits Technical Manager with Novartis and later Syngenta from 1998-2004 where he built a cotton biotechnology program that resulted in the development of trait-based product using the insecticidal protein Vip3A. Prior to joining Syngenta, Frank held the positions of Research Associate and Research Fellow at the University of Washington’s Department of Medical Genetics where he conducted research on human gene therapy applications with an emphasis on developing gene-based therapies for treatment of patients with hematopoietic diseases such a sickle cell anemia and β-thalasemia. Frank is a senior level biotechnology project management and business development professional specializing in product development and commercialization of genetically engineered trait-based crop products. His expertise stems from over 20 years of academic and industrial experience in both medical and agricultural biotechnology. Frank earned his Ph.D. in Entomology from the University of Minnesota in 1992 and Master of Science and Bachelor of Science from the University of Nebraska in 1988 and 1984, respectively. He has received additional training in numerous professional project management and business development programs. He is the author of many refereed publications; numerous patents, abstracts and several book chapters.

Topic: Examination of Bt eggplant release in Bangladesh
Discussion of Environmental Effects, Trade-Offs, and Synergies
 Panel III: Managing Pests in Tree Crops
 Harold BrowningChief Officer of the Citrus Research and Development Foundation, Inc. bio

Harold Browning, The Chief Operations Officer of the Citrus Research and Development Foundation, is responsible for the day-to-day management of the business affairs, administering the programs and policies approved by the Board of Directors pertaining to the planning and directing of the activities of the CRDF. CRDF emerged in 2009 to provide leadership and management to an aggressive research plan to address the detection of Huanglongbing (HLB) in Florida citrus. The CRDF manages a portfolio of multi-year research contracts with research scientists in 22 states and several international institutions. The CRDF has managed over $75 million in research, development and delivery projects since it was established in 2009. The budget for FY 2013-14 is $19.3 million. All contracting and contract management is overseen by the COO. In addition, the research and commercialization management conducted by the research manager is overseen by the COO. The COO is responsible for maintaining close communication with sponsors, citrus industry organizations, and state and federal coordinating groups related to citrus. As the COO of CRDF, Dr. Browning also serves in the following advisory roles: USDA, APHIS Citrus Health Response Program, National Citrus Council; Administrator for USDA, NIFA, SCRI CAP grant to develop and deliver a psyllid vector incapable of transmitting HLB. This is a 5 year, 9 million dollar grant managed by CRDF; and Florida Citrus liaison to state and federal efforts to seek funding for HLB research.

Topic: Pest management in citrus: Past, present and future
Marc Fuchs, Cornell University, Associate Professor. bio

Dr. Marc Fuchs joined the Department of Plant Pathology at Cornell University in 2004. His research and extension program focuses on virus diseases of fruit and vegetable crops. Marc received his Master’s and PhD degrees from the University Louis Pasteur in Strasbourg, France. He has worked on engineering resistance to viruses in vegetable and fruit crops over the past 20 years. He has also extensively addressed environmental safety issues related to the release of virus-resistant transgenic crops.

Topic: Virus-Resistance: Lessons and Prospects
Discussion of Environmental Effects, Trade-Offs, and Synergies
Topic: Discussion summarizing information gaps and research needs across different pest management practices and agricultural production systems

Social Science Research

Social Science Research on GE Crop Adoption and Acceptance 

The committee held a webinar on Wednesday February 4, 2015 at 2pm – 4pm EST to gather information from invited speakers:

Mary Hendrickson,  Assistant Professor, University of Missouri. bio

Mary Hendrickson is an assistant professor in the Department of Rural Sociology at the University of Missouri. As a food systems researcher, she focuses on understanding the changes taking place in the global food system and helping farmers, eaters, and communities create profitable alternatives. Her research projects include examining the economic impacts of local food systems on remote rural communities and addressing the competitive nature of current agricultural systems from a network perspective. From 2012 to 2015, Dr. Hendrickson was part of a team participating in a Community of Practice to assess the way smallholders use genetically engineered crops in South Africa. Dr. Hendrickson currently serves as the Undergraduate Advisor Chair in Sustainable Agriculture and teaches courses on sustainable food and farming systems. She previously spent 15 years working to create local food systems across Missouri as a state extension specialist for the University of Missouri. She has served as president of the Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society and of the Community Food Security Coalition. Dr. Hendrickson is the recipient of the 2012 Meritorious Service Award presented by the National Farmers Union for her service to agriculture. She holds a B.S. in agribusiness from the University of Nebraska and a M.S. and Ph.D. in rural sociology from the University of Missouri.

Matthew Schnurr,  Associate Professor, Dalhousie University. bio

Matthew Schnurr is an associate professor in the Department of International Development Studies at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. He is an environmental geographer with research and teaching interests in environment and development, political ecology, and agricultural biotechnology, with regional interests in east and southern Africa. His current research investigates efforts to develop genetically engineered versions of staple crops in Uganda, with a particular focus on evaluating farmer perspectives on these soon-to-be-released technologies. Dr. Schnurr earned his B.S. from Queen’s University, his M.A. from the School of Oriental and African Studies, and his Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia.

Abby Kinchy,  Associate Professor, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. bio

Abby Kinchy is an associate professor in the Science and Technology Studies Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She has a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and specializes in the study of political controversies surrounding changes in the systems that produce food and energy. She is the author of Seeds, Science, and Struggle: The Global Politics of Transgenic Crops (MIT, 2012) and numerous articles on science, technology, the environment, and social protest. Her current research, the Watershed Knowledge Mapping Project, looks at civil society organizations that are attempting to monitor the impacts of shale gas development on surface water quality and how these efforts are transforming what is known and unknown about this controversial new form of energy production.

The speakers’ presentations addressed how farmers and consumers participate in local food systems, the debate over the potential of GE crops to improve yields and livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the compatibility of GE crop production with social objectives.

The webinar is an information-gathering meeting for the committee in which the speakers are invited to provide input to the committee.

View the recording of this webinar below.*

*Audio with the presenter was lost at 01:22:18. The presentation resumes at 01:27:14.

Presentations for each speaker start at the below timestamps:

  • Mary Hendrickson: 00:08:30
  • Matthew Schnurr: 00:37:10
  • Abby Kinchy: 01:15:55

Plant Breeding

Plant Breeding at Public Institutions

The committee held a webinar on Tuesday, January 27, 2015, to gather information from invited speakers:
Click here to view the full webinar.

What is Plant Breeding?

For thousands of years, humans have been choosing the plants they like to eat and use. In doing so, we have changed plants in remarkable ways–physiologically, morphologically, reproductively, and chemically. Unlike their wild relatives, domesticated small grains like wheat and barley no longer shatter. Strawberries flower constantly and are larger. Carrots are tasty, orange, and uniform in shape, unlike their woody, gnarly, and white progenitors. These few examples illustrate how human preferences have driven genetic changes in domesticated plants. Humans have preferentially propagated plants with the most desirable characteristics in the field or saved their seed. With improved comprehension of life cycles and heredity, we became better at recognizing which crop varieties were good parents and started cross-pollinating them to develop new ones. This process—intentionally identifying, hybridizing, selecting, and propagating plants with desirable traits and genes—is known as plant breeding.

Why did the committee hear about plant breeding?

Plant breeders are the scientists and researchers who develop new crop varieties used by farmers and other consumers. They and their supporting teams use diverse techniques and technologies to increase productivity, quality, and other traits of economically important plant species. For the past several decades, plant breeders have used genetic information (DNA) to help guide decisions about which parents to use, crosses to make, and offspring to select in the next generation. If a desirable trait or gene is lacking from naturally existing plant taxa or is exceptionally difficult to access, genetic engineering is a technology that sometimes enables the creation of genetic variation that may otherwise be difficult or impossible to generate using traditional plant-breeding practices.

The following slideshow provides a brief introduction to the topic.

Watch the Plant Breeding Webinar and hear what the speakers presented to the committee!

Jim Holland (00:05:05 mark) discussed how corn breeders in the public sector, those in universities and government agencies, have been involved in research and development of new varieties over the past several decades. View bio

Jim Holland is a USDA-ARS research geneticist and a professor in the Department of Crop Science, North Carolina State University. Dr. Holland studies maize breeding and genetics, with emphasis on the study of genetic diversity in maize, its impact on quantitative traits, and its use for improving temperate corn. He was an associate and technical editor for Crop Science for nine years and is currently an associate editor for G3: Genes, Genomes, and Genetics. He received his B.A. from Johns Hopkins University, M.S. from University of Wisconsin, and Ph.D. from North Carolina State University.

Jane Dever (00:34:13 mark) discussed the nuances of identifying and using valuable crop traits in cotton breeding, from both commercial and public breeder perspectives. View bio

Jane Dever is a professor and cotton breeder at Texas A&M AgriLife Research in Lubbock. She has been Project Leader for the Cotton Improvement Program since September 2008. The focus of her research is the development of public cultivars and the screening of exotic collections for relevant native traits to be used in breeding cotton. She has been Principal Investigator for the project, “Development of Cultivars and IPM Systems for Organic Cotton Production,” funded by an integrative grant through the USDA National Institute of Food Agriculture’s Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative. She is also Technical Advisor to a development project with Catholic Relief Services in Burkina Faso, “Revenue through Cotton Livelihoods, Trade, and Equity,” funded by USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. Dr. Dever received a B.S. in textile engineering (1983), M.S. in crop science (1986) and Ph.D. in agronomy (1989), all from Texas Tech University. After completing her degree, she held the following career appointments: coordinator, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service AgriPartners program; Senior Research Scientist, BioTex; Textile Engineer, Plains Cotton Cooperative Association; and Head of Materials Evaluation, Fiber and Biopolymer Research Institute at Texas Tech University. She was Bayer CropScience Global Cotton Breeding and Development Manager for 10 years prior to returning to Texas A&M. Dr. Dever is the Plains and Western chair of the National Cotton Variety Testing Committee and secretary of the CottonGEN database steering committee and of National Association of Plant Breeder’s communication committee. She served as Associate Editor for Cotton, Journal of Plant Registrations. She was appointed a scientific member of the National Genetic Resources Advisory Council in 2011 and has served on the Joint Cotton Breeding Policy Committee. Dr. Dever is a recipient of the 2007 Bayer CropScience Gold Laureate Award, 2012 Cotton Genetics Research Award, and 2012 “Golden Hoe” award presented by the Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative. She lives on a cotton, grain sorghum, soybean, and wheat farm northeast of Lubbock, Texas, where she grew up.

Irwin Goldman (01:03:25 mark) discussed the role of genetic diversity in crop breeding and the regulations that modern breeders encounter when developing new crop varieties. View bio

Irwin L. Goldman is a professor and the chair of the Department of Horticulture at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he has worked for 23 years. His expertise is in breeding and genetics of cross-pollinated vegetable crops, including carrot, onion, and table beet. He has developed and co-developed numerous inbred lines and open pollinated populations of these crops, many of which are in use in cultivars around the world. His program has over 70 active licenses for this germplasm. He has been active in training graduate and undergraduate students in plant breeding and horticulture. Dr. Goldman teaches two courses in plant breeding and plant genetics as well as a course on vegetable crops, a course in evolutionary biology, and a course in plants and human wellbeing. He is a co-founder of the Open Source Seed Initiative and was a faculty advisor to the founding members of the Student Organic Seed Symposium. Dr. Goldman served from 2004–2010 as an Associate Dean, Vice Dean, and Interim Dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at UW–Madison. He is a fellow of the American Society for Horticultural Science. He serves as a Technical Editor for the journal Crop Science and on the editorial board of Plant Breeding Reviews. He received a B.S. degree from the University of Illinois, an M.S. from North Carolina State University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin.

Second Public Meeting: December 10, 2014



These are the archived videos of the presentations, discussions, and public comment periods from the public meeting of the committee on December 10, 2014.

View Agenda

Meeting Recap: This Storify collects the tweets and online discussion that took place at the meeting.

Click the links below to view videos of the presentations and discussions.

Welcome: Fred Gould, Committee Chair, University Distinguished Professor of Entomology and Codirector of the Genetic Engineering and Society Center, North Carolina State University

Study Process of the National Research Council: Kara Laney, Study Director, National Research Council

Committee Introductions

Session One:

Michael Schechtman, Biotechnology Coordinator, Office of Pest Management Policy, U.S. Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service. bio

Dr. Michael Schechtman is the biotechnology coordinator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, Office of Pest Management Policy, working as a biotechnology advisor with the office of the Secretary of Agriculture. He is the executive secretary of USDA’s Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture, which has considered the long-term implications of biotechnology for agriculture and USDA and has offered recommendations to USDA on strengthening coexistence among different agricultural production systems in the United States. He was previously in the biotechnology unit at the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service at USDA, working on regulatory policy coordination and development regarding organisms produced through biotechnology, both domestically and internationally. He was a member of the U.S. delegation to the Biosafety Protocol negotiations under the Convention on Biological Diversity. Dr. Schechtman received a BA from Harvard University in biochemical sciences and a PhD in molecular miology from Cornell University, did postdoctoral work in the Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, and was formerly a member of the biology faculty at Syracuse University.

Statement from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (delivered by Kara Laney)
Dan Voytas, Professor of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development and Director, University of Minnesota Center for Genome Engineering. bio

Dr. Dan Voytas is a professor in the Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development at the University of Minnesota (UMN) and the director of the UMN’s Center for Genome Engineering. He graduated from Harvard College in 1984 and received his PhD in genetics from Harvard Medical School in 1990. Dr. Voytas conducted postdoctoral research at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine where he was a fellow of the Life Science Research Foundation. In 1992, Dr. Voytas joined the faculty at Iowa State University. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1997 and to Professor in 2001. In 2008, he joined the faculty at the UMN. Dr. Voytas advises agricultural biotechnology companies on the use of new methods of genome engineering for crop improvement and serves as Chief Science Officer for Cellectis Plant Sciences. Dr. Voytas is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Andreas Weber, Head of the Institute of Plant Biochemistry, University of Düsseldorf. bio

Dr. Andreas Weber is a professor at and the head of the Institute of Plant Biochemistry at the University of Düsseldorf. His research interests include the physiology, biochemistry, and molecular biology of solute transport in plant cells; compartmentalization of metabolic pathways and metabolic networks; photorespiration; C4 photosynthesis; extremophilic eukaryotes; ‘omics technologies and synthetic experimental evolution; and synthetic biology. Dr. Weber is co-editor of the journals Plant, Cell & Environment, Plant and Cell Physiology, Journal of Experimental Botany, Frontiers in Plant Science, and Plant Biology and chairperson of physiology and molecular biology for the German Botanical Society. From 1996 to 2002 he was a research associate with the Botanical Institute of Cologne. He was an associate professor of plant biology at Michigan State University from 2002 to 2007. Dr. Weber received his doctorate in plant biology from the University of Würzburg.

Committee Discussion with Presenters

Session Two:

John Turner, Director, Environmental Risk Analysis Programs, Biotechnology Regulatory Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture–Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. bio

Dr. John Turner is the director of Environmental Risk Analysis Programs at Biotechnology Regulatory Services (BRS) within the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture. He provides leadership to the scientists who perform the risk assessments and prepare the environmental analyses related to the issuance of permits, acknowledgment of notifications, and the de-regulation genetically engineered organisms. At BRS he has also served as the director of policy coordination and worked as a biotechnologist. Prior to coming to USDA, he worked at Crop Genetics International (CGI), a pioneering U.S. biotechnology company which in the 1980s began using the newly available tools of genetic engineering to develop microbial pesticides for agriculture. He held various positions in research and management at CGI and was a key member of a research team that conducted some of the earliest field tests of genetically engineered organisms in the United States. Dr. Turner received BS and MS degrees from the University of Georgia and a PhD in plant pathology from Auburn University.

William L. Jordan, Deputy Director for Programs, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency– Office of Pesticide Programs. bio

William L. Jordan currently serves as the Deputy Director for Programs in EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP). He works on a wide variety of cross-cutting science and policy issues in areas such as food safety, protections for subjects in human research, pesticide labeling, endangered species protection, and nanotechnology. Mr. Jordan has worked in OPP since 1988, where he played a major role in the development of the legislation which became the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996. He was responsible for coordinating the development of documents describing major science policies EPA applies in implementing this law. In addition, he has been involved in many diverse policy and regulatory actions affecting pesticides, from the implementation of the worker protection standard to trade policy to data requirement regulations. He has served throughout OPP as Director of the Policy and Special Projects Staff, acting Director of the Field Operations Division, Associate Director of the Antimicrobials Division, and Senior Policy Adviser. Prior to OPP, Mr. Jordan worked in EPA’s Office of General Counsel on pesticide and water program activities. He was also a staff member of the President’s Council for a National Agenda for the Eighties. He has a law degree from Georgetown University and an undergraduate degree from Princeton University.

Chris A. Wozniak, Biotechnology Special Assistant, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency–Office of Pesticide Programs. bio

Dr. Chris Wozniak joined the U.S. EPA as Biotechnology Special Assistant in the Office of Pesticide Programs in 2008, focusing on issues of biotechnology policy, interagency coordination of biotech regulation, and environmental risk assessment of plant-incorporated protectants. Gene flow and introgression of transgenes into wild plant populations are key interests of Dr. Wozniak. Prior to working in this capacity, he served as the National Program Leader for Food Biotechnology and Microbiology at the USDA’s Cooperative States Research, Education and Extension Service and co-directed the Biotechnology Risk Assessment Grants program from 2004 to 2008. He has also worked for the EPA previously as a risk assessor of microbial and plant-based pesticides (1997–2004) and conducted research on biological control of the sugarbeet root maggot while working for the USDA– Agricultural Research Service (1988–1997). Dr. Wozniak’s training is primarily in plant pathology and plant biochemistry. He is an avid mushroom hunter and collector of wild fruits for jelly, jam, and syrup making.

Jason Dietz, Policy Analyst, Office of Food Additive Safety, Food and Drug Administration–Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. bio

Jason Dietz coordinates cross-cutting biotechnology-related activities in the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. In this role he regularly provides technical and policy input regarding plant biotechnology issues. Mr. Dietz has also served FDA as a consumer safety officer working on projects related to the safety of foods derived from genetically engineered organisms.

Committee Discussion with Presenters

Session Three:

Sandy Endicott, Senior Agronomy Manager, DuPont Pioneer. bio

Sandy Endicott has been with Pioneer for 25 years, starting as a Field Sales Agronomist in northwest Ohio and northeast Indiana. She joined Pioneer’s research team in 2004, moving to Hawaii to manage the agronomy program at Pioneer’s research centers in Waimea on the island of Kauai and Kunia on the island of Oahu. Ms. Endicott then joined Pioneer’s International Agronomy Team in 2008 and has traveled to countries in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America and to China learning about farming and corn production as part of her role. Ms. Endicott grew up on a grain and poultry farm in northwest Ohio where her family raised corn, parent soybean and wheat seed, sugarbeets, and alfalfa along with over 6,000 laying hens. She currently has a small farm in Ohio that produces corn, soybeans, and wheat and a small farm in Iowa that is in grass hay. Ms. Endicott received her BS and MS degrees from The Ohio State University in agronomy and weed science.

Ray Shillito, Research and Development Fellow, Bayer CropScience Impact on Production Agriculture. bio

Dr. Ray Shillito has been involved in agricultural biotechnology for more than 30 years. He began his career with a PhD in botany in England and studied agrobacterium-mediated gene transfer during his first post-doc position in the Netherlands. From there he joined the Friedrich Miescher Institute in Basel, Switzerland, where he did seminal work on gene transfer to plant cells until 1986. That year he moved to North Carolina where he has worked ever since. He is presently a Research and Development Fellow at Bayer CropScience. His experience encompasses many of the steps involved in biotechnology, from producing transgenic plants to regulatory studies and field trials and working on sampling and analytics in plants, seed, and grain. Ray has interacted with academic and
government scientists for many years. He is an active member of several scientific societies, leads U.S. representation in an ISO committee and chaired the International Life Sciences Institute’s International Biotechnology committee from 2005 to 2008. In this latter role, he was involved in many studies of safety assessment of GE crops and in workshops held at the request of local governments in more than a dozen countries. Dr. Shillito has recently focused on the sampling and analyzing for the presence of GE seed and grain, particularly in the context of global trade.

Robb Fraley, Monsanto New Technologies. bio

Dr. Robert Fraley is executive vice president and chief technology officer at Monsanto. He has been with the company for more than 30 years and currently oversees the company’s global technology division which includes plant breeding, plant biotechnology, ag biologicals, ag microbials, precision agriculture, and crop protection. Dr. Fraley is recognized as the father of agricultural biotechnology and has been involved in ag research since the early 1980s. He has authored more than 100 publications and patent applications. Dr. Fraley’s discoveries and applications of science are also routinely recognized for the tremendous impact they’ve had in supporting farmers and the agriculture demands of our planet. Dr. Fraley’s honors include: a World Food Prize Laureate (2013), the National Medal of Technology from President Clinton (1999), and the National Academy of Sciences Award for the Industrial Application of Science for his work on crop improvement (2008), among other recognitions. Dr. Fraley’s educational background includes a fellowship from the University of California, San Francisco, a PhD in microbiology/biochemistry from the University of Illinois, and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Illinois.

Steve Webb, External Technology and Intellectual Property Portfolio Development Leader, Dow AgroSciences. bio

Dr. Steve Webb began his career with Dow AgroSciences (DAS) in 1996 with Crop Protection Research and Development in Canada. He was a member of the team that created and launched the Nexera™ Omega-9 canola business. In 2000, Dr. Webb joined DAS in Indianapolis as a biochemist in Input Traits Discovery, then took a commercial assignment in 2001, where he was responsible for assessing the animal nutrition, animal health, and healthy oils concepts. In 2004, he returned to discovery research and has since held leadership positions in the Animal Health Platform, Cell Biology, and Advanced Technology Development. Throughout his career, Dr. Webb has been actively involved in identifying, establishing, and leading several external collaborations with universities, public research institutes, and commercial companies. Since 2009, he has led Advanced Technology Discovery, including the effort to develop and deploy the EXZACT™ Precision Platform Technologies in corn, soybean, canola, and wheat. As Research Committee Leader, he also represents DAS on several major external collaborations, including the Victorian Department of Environment, Primary Industries Australia, Fraunhofer IME Germany, and the National Research Council of Canada. Dr. Webb earned his bachelor of science degree in microbiology from the University of Guelph in 1990. In 1992, he earned a master’s in biochemistry, then a PhD in immunochemistry in 1998, also from the University of Guelph.

Committee Discussion with Presenters

Public Comment

GE Disease Resistance


Genetically Engineered Disease Resistance in Crops


The committee held a webinar on Thursday, November 6 from 2-4pm Eastern to gather information from invited speakers on genetically engineered traits for disease resistance. The webinar featured:

Richard Sayre, Senior Research Scientist, Los Alamos National Laboratory and the New Mexico Consortium. bio

Dr. Richard T. Sayre is currently a senior research scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and the New Mexico Consortium (NMC). Dr. Sayre’s research interests include: characterization of primary processes in photosynthesis, algal and plant biotechnology, and nutritional biofortification of crop plants. Dr. Sayre completed his undergraduate degree in biology at Humboldt State University and his PhD at the University of Iowa and did postdoctoral work at Harvard University. From 1986 to 2008, Dr. Sayre was a faculty member and later chairman of the Department of Plant Cellular and Molecular Biology at Ohio State University. Prior to coming to LANL/NMC, Dr. Sayre was the director (2008-2011) of the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Institute for Renewable Fuels at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St Louis. From 2005 to 2010, Dr. Sayre directed the BioCassava Plus Program funded by the Grand Challenges in Global Health Program of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The BioCassava Plus program focused on engineering cassava to provide complete nutrition for subsistence farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. Dr. Sayre has also served as Principle Investigator and Director of the Center for Advanced Biofuel Systems, a DOE Energy Frontier Research Center, and he was the scientific director of the National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels from 2010 to 2013. He is currently the scientific director of the Realization of Algae’s Potential (REAP) algal biomass program managed by the DOE. Dr. Sayre has received several honors including: Distinguished Professor in the College of Biological Sciences, Ohio State University (2005-2008); honorary member of Phi Beta Kappa (2006); Fulbright Scholar at the Inst. Quimica, University Sao Paulo, Brazil (2007); selected by Nature as one of “Five Crop Researchers Who Could Change the World” (Nature 456: 563-569 [2008]); invited attendee at Google/Nature/O’Reilly SciFoo Camp for Innovators (2009); and was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (2011). Dr. Sayre is an associate editor for Frontiers in Plant Sciences, founding editor of Algal Research, and co-organizer of the International Conference on Algal Biomass, Biofuels and Bioproducts.

Anton Haverkort, Researcher, Wageningen University and Research Center. bio

Dr. Anton J. Haverkort coordinates potato research projects at Plant Research International – Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands and is extra-ordinary professor of crop and soil science at the University of Pretoria (South Africa). After graduation with a degree in ecology (MSc, cum laude), he worked for many years for the International Potato Centre in Turkey, Rwanda, Peru, and Tunisia to improve potato production through agronomy, breeding, and crop protection. He obtained his PhD at University of Reading (UK) on mathematical modelling of the influence of temperature and solar radiation on potato development and growth in tropical highlands. At Wageningen University he presently coordinates research on the development of a cisgenic marker-free late blight potato. He also carries out research on data management (ontology) in the French fries supply chain and leads sustainable potato production projects in eight countries on four continents aimed at the efficient use of resources (land, water, energy) and value creation through trade and processing. He has published over 90 scientific papers, five books, and hundreds of conference papers, book chapters, columns, and articles for professional journals. He is chairman or member of various potato committees in the Netherlands dealing with seed certification and genetic modification and was secretary general of the European Association of Potato Research. He travels frequently for potato research and consultancy for the industry and (inter)national governmental and non-governmental organizations.

Ralph Scorza, Research Horticulturist, USDA Appalachian Fruit Research Station. bio

Ralph Scorza is a research horticulturist and lead scientist for the Genetic Improvement of Fruit Crops Research Unit at the USDA-ARS Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville, West Virginia. He received his BS and MS degrees agronomy and plant physiology, respectively, from the University of Florida and received his PhD in plant genetics and breeding from Purdue University. The broad objectives of his research program at USDA are to develop stone fruits with improved fruit quality, disease resistance, improved adaptability to climate change, and tree growth habits suitable for high yielding, mechanically integrated orchard systems. His breeding program combines classical and molecular-breeding approaches. Dr. Scorza and colleagues developed the genetically engineered plum Pox virus resistant plum cultivar ‘HoneySweet’. This plum variety is approved for commercialization in the United States and is the only temperate fruit variety in the world to have received such an approval. ‘HoneySweet’ has been field tested in Europe for almost two decades, and Dr. Scorza leads an international team that is working to submit ‘HoneySweet’ for cultivation approval in the European Union. Dr. Scorza is the recipient of the Flemming Award for “Exceptionally creative and useful research and leadership in the area of stone fruit breeding and genetics” and an ARS Senior Research Scientist of the Year Award, and has been co-recipient of three Secretary of Agriculture Honor Awards. He is a recipient of the Foreign Agricultural Service Distinguished International Service Award and the National Peach Council Carroll R. Miller Award. He has released 12 stone fruit varieties, is the co-inventor of four biotech utility patents, has authored over 200 research publications, and is a Fellow of the American Society for Horticultural Science.

Dennis Gonsalves, Director, USDA Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center (retired). bio

Dennis Gonsalves was born and raised on a sugar plantation in Kohala, Hawaii. He received his BS and MS degrees from University of Hawaii and his PhD in Plant Pathology in 1972 from University of California at Davis. He started his career at the University of Florida and joined Cornell University in 1977 and was appointed to one of the endowed Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor positions in 1995. Dr. Gonsalves led the research team that developed the transgenic papaya that saved Hawaii’s papaya industry from the papaya ringspot virus, for which they received the Alexander Von Humbolt Award in 2002 for the most significant agriculture accomplishment in the last five years. In 2002 he moved
to Hilo, Hawaii, to direct the USDA/ARS center and led the successful deregulation of the transgenic papaya in Japan in December 2011 and retired at the end of 2012. Prior to retiring, he started the effort by ARS and University of Hawaii to deregulate the Hawaiian transgenic papaya in China. He has extensive experiences in risk assessment and development of transgenic crops.

Presentations for each speaker start at the below timestamps:

  • Richard Sayre: 00:07:03
  • Anton Haverkort: 00:45:20
  • Ralph Scorza: 01:33:00
  • Dennis Gonsalves: 02:02:25

US Agricultural Extension


Perspectives on GE Crops from US Agricultural Extension


The committee held a webinar on Wednesday, October 22, from 2-4pm Eastern to gather information from invited speakers. The webinar featured:

Russel Higgins, Extension Educator, Northern Illinois Agronomy Research Center, University of Illinois Extension. bio

Russ Higgins is a commercial agriculture educator at the Northern Illinois Agronomy Research Center in DeKalb County. Mr. Higgins has applied research and outreach responsibilities for the commercial production and management of field crops (emphasis on corn and soybeans) in Northern Illinois. He collaborates closely with campus-based specialists and other faculty in the planning and implementation of research projects with local relevance to stakeholders. He cooperates with campus faculty in conducting pest surveys and the dissemination of these findings to clientele. Mr. Higgins holds a master of science degree from the University of Illinois in agronomy and a bachelor of science degree in agricultural sciences from Western Illinois University. His professional affiliations include the National Association of County Agricultural Agents, Illinois Extension Agricultural Association, and American Society of Agronomy. He is an American Society of Agronomy Certified Crop Advisor and a graduate of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership and the National Extension Leadership Programs.

Jeff Lannom, Weakley County Extension Director, University of Tennessee Extension. bio

Jeff Lannom grew up on a row-crop farm in Gibson County, Tennessee. He graduated from the University of Tennessee-Martin in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture and a concentration in agricultural business. He served as the 4-H agriculture agent in Weakley County for the University of Tennessee Extension before returning to UT-Martin for a master of science degree in education. Mr. Lannom transferred from 4-H to adult agriculture extension in 1994 and was appointed the Weakley County Extension Director in 1998. This year marks Mr. Lannom’s 25th year in UT Extension based in Weakley County. In 2014, Weakley County planted 67,000 acres of corn, 85,000 acres of soybeans, and 27,000 acres of wheat with minor acreage of cotton and grain sorghum. The county is annually ranked in the top 5 grain-producing counties in the state of Tennessee.

Diana Roberts, Regional Extension Specialist, Washington State University Extension. bio

Diana Roberts has worked as a regional agronomist for Washington State University Extension since 1991. Dr. Roberts plans, conducts, and evaluates a research- and experience-based educational program consistent with clientele needs and Extension policy in agricultural crop production, with the goal of increasing agricultural sustainability. She works primarily with large-scale grain farmers across the dryland region of eastern Washington. Soft white wheat is the principal crop in the area, and most of it is grown for export markets. Increasing numbers of growers in the region use no-till farming systems. She works closely with farmers on producer-initiated, on-farm testing projects of direct-seeding systems. Washington State also has a large number of organic producers. Dr. Roberts has worked on a number of integrated crop production system projects, including biological control of cereal leaf beetle, trials of cover crops in the region, and integrated pest management strategies for the wheat midge. Dr. Roberts earned a BS in agricultural genetics from the University of Natal (South Africa), an MS in agronomy at North Dakota State University, and a PhD in agronomy at Washington State University.

Dallas Peterson, Professor and Extension Weed Specialist, Kansas State University. bio

Dallas Peterson is a professor and extension weed specialist at Kansas State University. He grew up on a small diversified crop and livestock farm in north central Kansas and received his BS and MS degrees in agronomy from Kansas State University. Dr. Peterson completed his PhD degree at North Dakota State University and worked as an assistant professor and extension weed specialist in North Dakota from 1987 to 1989 before returning to Kansas State. Dr. Peterson conducts applied weed management research and provides educational programming and weed management information to Kansas farmers and crop advisors. Dr. Peterson has served as president and been recognized as a fellow of the North Central Weed Science Society. He has also has received the Outstanding Extension Award and is currently serving as President-Elect for the Weed Science Society of America.

Presentations for each speaker start at the below timestamps:

  • Russel Higgins: 00:06:15
  • Jeff Lannom: 00:36:08
  • Diana Roberts: 00:51:55
  • Dallas Peterson: 01:23:10

International Trade


International Trade and GE Crops


The committee held a webinar on Wednesday, October 8, from 2-4pm Eastern to gather information from invited speakers. The webinar featured:

Lee Ann Jackson, Counsellor, World Trade Organization. bio

Lee Ann Jackson is a counsellor in the Agriculture and Commodities Division at the World Trade Organization and Secretary to the Committee on Agriculture. At the WTO she has worked in a variety of areas including agricultural negotiations, implementation of the SPS Agreement, and dispute settlement activities. Prior to this position she served as a Research Fellow in the School of Economics at the University of Adelaide in South Australia where she conducted quantitative economic research on agricultural trade policy. She also worked for several years in the Environment Division of the International Food Policy Research Institute. She completed her Ph.D. in applied economics at the University of Minnesota and has a joint masters’ degree in public policy and environmental studies from Yale University.

Randal Giroux, Vice President – Food Safety, Quality and Regulatory, Cargill, Incorporated. bio

Randal Giroux currently holds the position of Vice President at Cargill Incorporated at the World Headquarters in Wayzata, Minnesota. Dr. Giroux leads the areas of Food Safety, Quality, and Regulatory with overall global responsibility in Cargill’s Agricultural Supply Chain businesses, specifically Cargill’s Grain and Oilseeds businesses, World Trading, Sugar, and Palm. He is involved professionally with both science and trade organizations across the supply chain and recognized for expertise in both Food Safety and the integration of Agricultural Biotechnology in global food and feed supply chains. He holds a number of leadership positions in the trade and has served on several advisory committees. Before joining Cargill, Dr. Giroux was a Program Manager with the Canadian Grain Commission and, prior to his public service, he was a National Needs Fellow with USDA. Dr. Giroux graduated with a PhD in Agriculture from the University of Guelph (OAC). With his background in the Life Sciences and extensive experience with Cargill’s global supply chain businesses, Dr. Giroux possesses unique skill sets that allow him to operate at a highly technical level and effectively identify and manage Food Safety, Quality, and Regulatory opportunities for Cargill’s agricultural businesses and stakeholders.

Lynn Clarkson, President, Clarkson Grain. bio

Lynn Clarkson serves as president of Clarkson Grain and managing director of Clarkson Soy Products. Founded in 1974 in Cerro Gordo, Illinois, Clarkson Grain contracts with farmers across Illinois, several other states, and a few foreign countries to produce selected grains and oilseeds. It selects hybrids, varieties, and production protocols to optimize farm income, processor yield, and market access. It supplies crops throughout the year to clients in North and South America, Asia, and the EU. It offers products cleaned, sized, raw, or processed, identity preserved as to hybrid/variety/characteristics, and traceable back to the supplying farm for organic, non GMO, and conventional markets. The company owns and operates elevators, commercial preparation facilities for corn and soybeans, several commercial storage facilities, and a barge station on the Illinois River. It receives by truck and rail and ships by truck, rail, barge, and ocean vessel.

Presentations for each speaker start at the below timestamps:

  • Lee Ann Jackson: 00:05:45
  • Lynn Clarkson: 00:53:03
  • Randal Giroux: 01:35: 33

US Agricultural Extension


Perspectives on GE Crops from US Agricultural Extension


The committee held a webinar on Wednesday, October 1, from 2-4pm Eastern to gather information from invited speakers. The webinar featured:

Dominic Reisig, Associate Professor & Extension Specialist, North Carolina Cooperative Extension. bio

Dominic Reisig has been an assistant professor in the North Carolina State University Department of Entomology since 2009, serving with an extension/research split. He is assigned extension responsibilities for insect pests of field crops throughout the state. Most of the field crop acreage is located in the eastern part of the state, and Dr. Reisig is housed two hours east of campus at the Vernon James Research and Extension Center. He keeps growers in other parts of the state informed through face-to-face meetings and a large web presence, focused on blogging and social media platforms such as Twitter. His research program is focused on the biology and ecology of Heliothines, especially in relation to Bt crops. Piercing sucking insect pests (i.e., stink bugs, thrips, and kudzu bug) have become an increased problem in the reduced-spray environment created by Bt. Other areas of his research program are focused on the distribution, movement, ecology, and management of these piercing sucking insect pests in farmscapes.

Mohamed Khan, Professor & Extension Sugarbeet Specialist, North Dakota State University and University of Minnesota. bio

Dr. Mohamed Khan is the Extension Sugarbeet Specialist for North Dakota State University and the University of Minnesota. He is responsible for developing, conducting, and evaluating educational programs that will improve sugarbeet production practices in North Dakota and Minnesota. Dr. Khan research is aimed at improving management of diseases such as Cercospora leaf spot, Rhizoctonia crown and root rot, Rhizomania and Fusarium yellows, and agronomic practices such as optimum plant populations and nitrogen management. Dr. Khan is the secretary of the Sugarbeet Research and Education Board of Minnesota and North Dakota (SBREB). The SBREB is responsible for funding and promoting research and educational programs in sugarbeet production. Dr. Khan is also the Chairman of the International Sugarbeet Institute which organizes an annual 2-day trade show. About 3,000 growers and allied industry personnel participate in the exposition that involves over 120 exhibitors who showcase more than $3 million worth of machinery and equipment involved in sugarbeet production. Dr. Khan received his BS from the University of Guyana, MS from the University of Bath, UK, and his PhD from Clemson University. He is also experienced in managing tropical crops including coconut, oil palm and sugar cane.

Rick Kersbergen, Extension Professor, University of Maine Cooperative Extension. bio

Rick Kersbergen has been active in conducting research and Extension activities related to sustainable dairy and forage systems in Maine since 1987. He is currently an Extension Professor with the University of Maine and a Certified Crop Adviser through the American Society of Agronomy. Rick conducts educational programing and research on a wide variety of topics, including organic dairy production, no-till corn silage production, cover crops, and organic grain production. Rick received a Trustee Professorship from the University of Maine in 2005 and has been the PI or co-PI on numerous research grants to the University of Maine, University of Vermont, and University of New Hampshire. He has recently worked on several projects including a project from the National Institute for Food and Agriculture entitled “Assisting Organic Dairy Producers to Meet the Demands of New and Emerging Milk Markets” and a Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) project on “Reducing Fuel and Fertilizer in Corn Silage Using No-till and Cover Crops.” Rick works with numerous commodity organizations including the Maine Grass Farmers Network, Maine Dairy Industry Association, Maine Organic Milk Producers, Northeast Pasture Consortium, Maine Sustainable Ag. Society, and the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association.

Ben Beale, Extension Educator-Agricultural Sciences, University of Maryland Extension. bio

Ben Beale currently serves as the Extension Educator for Agricultural Sciences with the University of Maryland Extension office in St. Mary’s County. His main programming efforts include assisting growers with vegetable and small fruit production, grain and tobacco production, and alternative crop development. Most recently, he has been involved in the establishment of a local produce auction, transition from MD type to Burley type tobacco production, and establishing a USDA/NIFA Beginning Farmer program in Maryland. His current research projects include grape variety evaluation trials, blueberry cultivar evaluation trials, and investigation of soybean vein necrosis virus. Beale holds a BS degree in Agricultural Sciences; a MS degree in Management and Marketing and is a Certified Crop Advisor. Beale grew up on a tobacco and vegetable farm in Southern Maryland and enjoys working on the family farm in his spare time.

Presentations for each speaker start at the below timestamps:

  • Dominic Reisig: 00:04:03
  • Mohamed Khan: 00:33:45
  • Rick Kersbergen: 01:01:55
  • Ben Beale: 01:20:30

First Public Meeting: September 15-16, 2014

These are the archived videos of the presentations, discussions, and public comment periods from the two-day public meeting of the committee on September 15-16, 2014.

View Agenda

View Speaker Bios

Click the links below to view videos of the presentations and discussions.

Day 1

Welcome: Fred Gould, Committee Chair, University Distinguished Professor of Entomology and Codirector of the Genetic Engineering and Society Center, North Carolina State University

Study Process of the National Research Council: Kara Laney, Study Director, National Research Council

Committee Introductions

Session One:

Major Goodman, Member of the National Academy of Sciences and William Neal Reynolds and Distinguished University Professor of Crop Science, Statistics, Genetics, and Botany. bio

Major Goodman is the William Neal Reynolds and Distinguished University Professor of Crop Sciences, Statistics, Genetics, and Botany at North Carolina State University. His research focuses on the evolution of cultivated plants, especially maize, and plant breeding. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1986. Dr. Goodman began breeding maize when he took over the corn breeding program in the Crop Science Department at NCSU. Since then, he has developed more than 90 public lines mixing tropical and temperate parents. Because these lines have been used by others to develop commercial hybrids, the genetic stock he created has shown up in hybrids used in Asia, Central and South America and the United States. Dr. Goodman received a BS in Mathematics from Iowa State University, and Master’s and PhD degrees from North Carolina State University in Genetics.

R. James Cook, Member of the National Academy of Sciences and Professor Emeritus, Washington State University. bio

R. James Cook is Professor Emeritus at Washington State University. During his 40 years at WSU, he served from 1965 to 1998 with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) conducting research on biological and ecological approaches to manage root diseases of Pacific Northwest wheat. From 1998 to 2003 he was the R. J. Cook Endowed Chair in Wheat Research at WSU, a position endowed with a $1.5 million gift to the WSU Foundation from the Washington Wheat Commission. From 2003 until his retirement in 2005, he served as Interim Dean of the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences. He served as Chief Scientist for the USDA National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program from October 1993 to April 1996. In addition to some 200 peer-reviewed journal papers and book chapters, he has co-authored two books on biological control of plant pathogens and one on wheat health management. Dr. Cook was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1993 and was selected co-winner of the 2011 Wolf Prize for Agriculture awarded in Israel. He currently serves as one of seven citizen trustees on the Board Authority of the State’s Life Sciences Discovery Fund and is a founding member and past president of the Washington State Academy of Sciences. He holds BSc (1958) and MSc. (1961) degrees from North Dakota State University and a PhD (1964) from the University of California, Berkeley.

Ian Baldwin, Member of the National Academy of Sciences and Professor, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology. bio

Ian T. Baldwin is Director of the Department of Molecular Biology and Professor at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology. In the Department, Dr. Baldwin is training the next generation of whole-organismic biologists (genome-enabled field biologists). In this research program, he and his students regularly use a nature preserve in the Great Basin Desert of the US to conduct experiments with genetically modified plants in the plant’s native environment to understand the genes that matter for survival under real world conditions. The research program has uncovered mechanisms by which plants resist and tolerate attack from herbivores and pathogens and optimize pollination services. Dr. Baldwin has published more than 370 peer-reviewed papers and one book on the
induced defenses of plants. He is distinguished by having integrated the advances in molecular biology into the study of ecological interactions to catalyze a change in how ecologists examine ecological interactions and falsify hypotheses and by having integrated the whole-organismic expertise of ecologists into the study of gene function. Dr. Baldwin received an AB from Dartmouth College in 1981, and PhD from Cornell University in 1989.

Committee Discussion with Presenters

Session Two:

Chuck Benbrook, Research Professor, Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resources, Washington State University. bio

Charles Benbrook is a Research Professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, Washington State University. He is the program leader of “Measure to Manage: Farm and Food Diagnostics for Sustainability and Health.” He spent the first 18 years of his career working in Washington, D.C., first working for the Executive Office of the President (1979-1980), then as the Executive Director for a U.S. House of Representatives agricultural subcommittee (1981-1983). He was the Executive Director of the National Academy of Sciences Board on Agriculture from 1984-1990, and has run a small consulting firm since 1991. He moved to the west in 1997, and served as the Chief Scientist for The Organic Center from 2004 through June of 2012. He has participated as an expert witness in several lawsuits involving pesticides and agricultural biotechnology. He has written more than two-dozen peer reviewed articles in a wide range of technical journals and served on many committees and boards. Dr. Benbrook has a PhD in agricultural economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an undergraduate degree from Harvard University.

Glenn Stone, Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Studies, Washington University in St. Louis. bio

Glenn Stone is Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Stone is an ecological anthropologist who studies the ecological, political, and cultural aspects of agriculture. His major research projects have focused on population, conflict, and the organization of production in Nigeria, and on agricultural biotechnology in India. His writing has also explored global biotechnology debates, ethics in agriculture, indigenous knowledge and agricultural
deskilling, prehistoric and modern settlement patterns, internet technology and agriculture, intellectual property, genetically modified foods, new forms of internet-based scholarship, and science studies. His current field research projects are a Templeton-funded study of indigenous knowledge, management skill, and technological change (including genetically modified seed) in India and the Philippines, and a study of sustainable small farms in several sites in North America. Dr. Stone received his BA from Northwestern University, and MA and PhD from the University of Arizona.

Hope Shand, Independent Consultant and Senior Advisor, Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC) Group. bio

Hope Shand is an Independent Consultant and Senior Advisor to ETC Group, an international civil society organization based in Canada. Working with both the ETC Group and Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) over the past 30 years, Hope has conducted extensive research and writing on the topics of agricultural biodiversity and intellectual property, as well as the social and economic impacts of new technologies on farming communities and marginalized peoples. She has also served as a consultant to the FAO. Ms. Shand currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Seed Savers Exchange (Decorah, Iowa), a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and conserving food crop diversity.

Committee Discussion with Presenters

Public Comment

Day 2

Welcome: Fred Gould, Committee Chair, University Distinguished Professor of Entomology and Codirector of the Genetic Engineering and Society Center, North Carolina State University

Study Process of the National Research Council: Kara Laney, Study Director, National Research Council

Committee Introductions

Session Three:

Dietram Scheufele, Co-chair, National Research Council Roundtable on Public Interfaces of the Life Sciences and John E. Ross Professor in Science Communication, University of Wisconsin, Madison. bio

Dietram A. Scheufele is the John E. Ross Professor in Science Communication at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and Honorary Professor of Communication at the Dresden University of Technology (Germany). He serves as Co-PI of the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University, and currently also co-chairs the National Academies’ Roundtable on Public Interfaces of the Life Sciences. Dr. Scheufele is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters. He has been a tenured faculty member at Cornell University, a Shorenstein fellow at Harvard University, and a DAAD Visiting Professor at the Technische Universität Dresden. His consulting experience includes work for PBS, the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and other corporate and public sector clients in the U.S., Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Dr. Scheufele received his PhD in mass communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Jennifer Kuzma, Goodnight-Glaxo Wellcome Distinguished Professor and Codirector of the Genetic Engineering and Society Center, North Carolina State University. bio

Jennifer Kuzma joined North Carolina State University in August 2013 as the Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program senior hire in the interdisciplinary Genetic Engineering and Society cluster. She is the Goodnight-NCGSK Foundation Distinguished Professor in the School of Public and International Affairs and co-director of the Genetic Engineering and Society center at NCSU. Before this appointment, Kuzma was a professor in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota for 10 years in the Science, Technology and Environmental Policy program. Her research focuses on studying governance systems for emerging technologies and understanding the dynamics of these systems. She explores the values, organizations, and outcomes associated with existing oversight systems in order to inform future policy-making. She has published over 90 academic articles, book chapters and policy reports in areas associated with emerging technologies and governance. She has held and currently holds several board, leadership, and advisory positions, including Chair of the Gordon Conference on Science and Technology Policy, Chair of the Society for Risk Analysis section on Risk Policy and Law, the European Commission Expert Group for 2011 Science in Society Work Programme, the Expert Group for the EU’s ‘SYNTH-ETHICS’ project, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Blood Products Advisory Committee, and the UN WHO-FAO Joint Expert Group for the Applications of Nanotechnologies to the Food and Agriculture Sectors. Prior to entering academe, she served as program and study director for several U.S. National Academy of Sciences reports related to biotechnology and bioterrorism policy and as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Risk Policy Fellow at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Carmen Bain, Associate Professor of Sociology, Iowa State University. bio

Carmen Bain is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Iowa State University. Her research interests include the political economy of food and agriculture; the socio-political dimensions of biotechnology as it relates to food and agriculture; and gender, social change and development. Dr. Bain is co-PI on an interdisciplinary AFRI-NFI grant “Transgenic approaches in managing sudden death syndrome in soybean” (2012-2017), where her research focuses on understanding and analyzing societal acceptance and governance issues related to genetically engineered foods, especially as it relates to labeling. She received BA and MA degrees from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, and a PhD from Michigan State University.

Session Four:

Gilles-Éric Séralini, Professor of Molecular Biology, University of Caen, France, and Director of the Network on Risks, Quality, and Sustainable Environment. bio

Gilles-Éric Sérálini has been a Professor of molecular biology at the Université de Caen Basse Normandie since 1991. He is also the Chairman of the Scientific Council CRIIGEN. Dr. Seralini has researched effects of environment on health, particularly in the area of agricultural genetically-modified crops and the accompanying pesticides. He has also studied effects on sexual steroids, reproduction, tumors and cancer, and gene expression. Dr. Sérálini was a member of two French government commissions on GMO evaluation from 1998-2007, Commission du Genie Biomoleculaire (CGB) and the Comité de Biovigilance. He has also served as an expert for the European Union on environmental ethics, chemical and biotechnological risks, and for the conflict on GMO moratorium between the U.S. and EU at the WTO level.

*Due to technical difficulties, Dr. Séralini was unable to give his full presentation. For a copy of the full presentation, please email the Public Access Records Office.

Jeffrey Smith, Founding Executive Director, Institute for Responsible Technology. bio

Jeffrey M. Smith is the Founding Executive Director at the Institute for Responsible Technology. He has been involved with genetically modified (GM) foods for nearly a decade. He worked for non-profit and political groups on the issue and in 1998, ran for U.S. Congress to raise public awareness of the health and environmental impacts. To protect children-who are most at risk from the potential health effects of GM foods-Smith proposed legislation to remove the foods from school meals. He also proposed legislation to help protect farmers from cross-pollination by GM crops. Later, he was vice president of marketing for a GMO detection laboratory. Prior to working in this field, he was a writer, educator, and public speaker for non-profit groups, advancing the causes of health, environment, and personal development. Mr. Smith received a Master’s degree in business administration.

*Presentation experienced technical difficulties

Janet Cotter, Senior Scientist, Greenpeace International. bio

Janet Cotter is a Senior Scientist at the Greenpeace International Science Unit, based at the University of Exeter, UK, where she has served as an expert on agriculture (including GMOs) and forests campaigns for over 12 years. The Greenpeace Science Unit supplies scientific support and leadership to Greenpeace’s offices worldwide. Prior to joining Greenpeace, she was a Lecturer in Plant and Soil Science at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. This appointment followed the award of a postdoctoral research fellowship, held at Manchester University. Dr. Cotter received a PhD from Imperial College, University of London.

Committee Discussion with Presenters

Session Five:

Greg Jaffe, Director of the Project on Biotechnology, Center for Science in the Public Interest. bio

Gregory Jaffe is the Director of the Project on Biotechnology for CSPI. Mr. Jaffe came to CSPI after serving as a Trial Attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division and as Senior Counsel with the U.S. EPA, Air Enforcement Division. He has expertise on agricultural biotechnology and biosafety, and has published numerous articles and reports on those topics. Mr. Jaffe has worked on biosafety regulatory issues in the U.S. and throughout the world, including the African countries of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mali, Ghana, Malawi, South Africa, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria. He was a member of the Secretary of Agriculture’s Advisory Committee on Agricultural Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture from 2003-2008 and was reappointed to a new term in 2011. He was also a member of FDA’s Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee from 2004-2008. In addition, he has provided his biosafety expertise for projects involving the International Food Policy Research Institute, the World Bank, and the UNEP-GEF Biosafety Project. Jaffe earned his BA with High Honors from Wesleyan University in Biology and Government and then received a law degree from Harvard Law School.

Jon Entine, Executive Director, Genetic Literacy Project, and Senior Fellow, World Food Center Institute for Food and Agricultural Literacy, University of California-Davis. bio

Jon Entine is the Executive Director of the Genetic Literacy Project, and is a Senior Fellow at the World Food Center Institute for Food and Agricultural Literacy at the University of California-Davis. Mr. Entine has been a Senior Fellow at the Center for Health and Risk Communication at George Mason University and, since 2003, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, focusing on science and public policy. He has written or edited seven books, is a columnist at Ethical Corporation magazine, and is the founder of the sustainability consultancy, ESG MediaMetrics. Before launching his writing and consulting career, he was an Emmy-award winning producer and executive for 20 years at NBC News and ABC News, winning two Emmys and 17 other major awards. Mr. Entine received his BA in philosophy from Trinity College (CT) and studied at the University of Michigan under a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship.

Doug Gurian-Sherman, Director of Sustainable Agriculture and Senior Scientist, Center for Food Safety. bio

Doug Gurian-Sherman is the Director of Sustainable Agriculture and Senior Scientist at the Center for Food Safety. He previously served as Senior Scientist at the Center for Food Safety from 2004-2006. Dr. Gurian-Sherman works to expand scientific programs and assess research in important areas of sustainable and industrial agricultural including: Animal factories (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations), soil, agroecology, public breeding, equitable food systems, and genetic engineering. In previous positions, Dr. Gurian-Sherman has been known for his work examining the impacts of genetic engineering, CAFOs, and agroecology. He is the author of the Union of Concerned Scientists report Failure to Yield: Evaluating the Performance of Genetically Engineered Crops. Dr. Gurian-Sherman was the founding co-director and science director for the biotechnology project at the Center for Science and the Public Interest. He has served as senior scientist in the Food & Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Previously, Dr. Gurian-Sherman worked at the EPA where he examined the human health impacts and environmental risk of genetically engineered plants. He also worked in the Biotechnology Group at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and he served on the Food and Drug Administration’s inaugural advisory food biotechnology subcommittee. Dr. Gurian-Sherman earned his PhD in plant pathology from the University of California-Berkeley. He conducted post-doctoral research on rice and wheat molecular biology at the U.S. Department of Agriculture laboratory in Albany, California.

Bill Freese, Science Policy Analyst, Center for Food Safety
Tamar Haspel, Journalist, The Washington Post. bio

Tamar Haspel is a journalist with The Washington Post, and currently writes for the food and science sections. She has been writing about food, health, and science for the best part of two decades for a host of magazines and newspapers. Her monthly column, Unearthed, deals with food supply issues; biotech, pesticides, food additives, antibiotics, honeybees, and organics. When she’s not writing about those issues, Ms. Haspel helps her husband on their oyster farm, Barnstable Oyster.

Session Six:

Tim Schwab, Senior Researcher, Food & Water Watch. bio

Tim Schwab is a Senior Researcher at Food & Water Watch, a non-profit advocacy group based in Washington D.C. With a background in journalism, Mr. Schwab’s research and writing continues the watchdog role he learned and practiced as a reporter. In recent years, his work has focused on GMOs and investigating conflicts of interest in agricultural research, including a widely cited report from 2012, Public Research, Private Gain. Mr. Schwab’s research and writing has been published or profiled in the Boston Globe, Le Monde, Food and Drug Law Journal, and Mother Jones. He has a Master’s degree in journalism from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

Michael Hansen, Senior Staff Scientist, Consumers Union. bio

Michael K. Hansen is a Senior Staff Scientist with Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports. He currently works primarily on food safety issues, and has been largely responsible for developing CU positions on safety, testing and labeling of genetically engineered food, and “mad cow” disease. Since 2003, he has worked on a multi-state effort to ban the use of food crops to produce pharmaceutical drugs and industrial chemicals. Dr. Hansen served on the USDA Advisory Committee on Agricultural Biotechnology from 1998-2002, and on the California Department of Food and Agriculture Food Biotechnology Advisory Committee, from 2001-2002. He was appointed to a FAO/WHO Joint Consultation on Genetically Engineered Animals in 2003. In June 2005, he joined the Board of ETC Group, previously known as RAFI. Dr. Hansen has written reports on alternatives to agricultural pesticides in developing countries, and the pesticide and agriculture policies of the World Bank and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Dr. Hansen received his undergraduate degree with Highest Distinction from Northwestern University and his PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Michigan.

Lisa Griffith, Outreach Director, National Family Farm Coalition

Committee Discussion with Presenters

Public Comment