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Plant Biologicals Network Symposium 2019

Copenhagen, Denmark

Dr. Morven McLean, ILSI Research Foundation Executive Director, delivered the keynote presentation at the 2019 Plant Biologicals Network Symposium. 

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4th International Conference on Biotechnology in Health and Agriculture

Dhaka, Bangladesh

The ILSI Research Foundation’s South Asia Biosafety Program sponsored a technical session on Biosafety and the Environment at the 4th International Conference of Biotechnology on Health and Agriculture, which was organized jointly by the Global Network of Bangladeshi Biotechnologists and Innovation in Plant and Food Sciences.

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									Overview			
					
					
				Overview
							

The vast majority of Americans now live their lives almost entirely detached from agriculture and the realities of food production, rendering them increasingly susceptible to urban folklore and myths about so-called "sustainable food." Fruits and vegetables are an important class of foods for which an entire mythology around sustainability has developed. Organized by the Fruit and Vegetable Supply Chains: Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Opportunities project, this breakout session at the Sustainable Agriculture Summit addressed many of those myths through a creative presentation of the findings generated by a highly interdisciplinary research team, which is now two years into a four-year effort.

Description

Americans are encouraged to eat more fruit and vegetables as part of a balanced diet, and they have come to accept as true many tenuous precepts about the sustainability of fruit and vegetable food systems (e.g., local means more sustainable, water use is high and getting worse, organic is healthier, etc.). Another assertion often heard is that both climate change and decreased availability of irrigation water will make it increasingly difficult to meet future fruit and vegetable demand. However, industry stakeholders report that relatively minor management practice changes have so far been sufficient to adapt to these challenges. These same stakeholders report that the significant innovation and transformation of fruit and vegetable supply chains now underway is actually dominated by primarily socioeconomic considerations: consumer preference for fresh produce grown locally, increased competition for natural resources, cost and availability of labor, efforts to improve sustainability profiles, and the rise of protected and peri-urban production.

But what about the future?

Our highly interdisciplinary research team is now two years into a first-ever four-year, USDA NIFA-funded effort to explore climate adaptation and mitigation opportunities in U.S. fruit and vegetable supply chains, through the application of a novel integrated modeling framework that includes crop, economic, and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) models. During this breakout session at the Sustainable Agriculture Summit, we employed a creative approach, in which we first presented and then "busted" a series of "myths" about the sustainability of fruit and vegetable supply chains.

Learning Objectives
  1. Upon completion, participants were able to articulate and utilize accurate information concerning the factors (primarily socioeconomic in nature) that are most responsible for ongoing changes in fruit and vegetable supply chains.
  2. Upon completion, participants were able to respond in a fully-informed manner to how continuing changes in climate patterns and irrigation water availability are expected to impact fruit and vegetable supply chains.
  3. Upon completion, participants were able to pursue opportunities for expansion of domestic fruit and vegetable production in areas with high yields and favorable sustainability profiles.
  4. Upon completion, participants were able to address the fruit and vegetable supply chain steps having the largest impact on overall environmental footprints (land, water, and GHGs).

Speakers

Dr. Dave Gustafson,
ILSI Research Foundation
Expand

Dr. Dave Gustafson is an independent scientist who uses modeling to help food systems meet human nutrition needs in more sustainable ways. His academic training was in chemical engineering (Stanford, B.S., 1980; University of Washington, Ph.D., 1983). He worked for 30 years in private industry (Shell, Rhône-Poulenc, and Monsanto), and then served at the ILSI Research Foundation as Director of the Center for Integrated Modeling of Sustainable Agriculture and Nutrition Security (CIMSANS) through 2016. Dave’s early career focused on predicting agricultural impacts on water quality. He subsequently developed new modeling approaches to pollen-mediated gene flow and the population genetics of insect and weed resistance. Beginning in 2007, Dave began leading efforts to understand climate adaptation and mitigation imperatives in the global agri-food system. He has served on various national and international teams looking at this issue, including the Executive Secretariat of the US Government’s National Climate Assessment Development & Advisory Committee (2011-2014).

Dr. Kaiyu Guan,
University of Illinois
Expand

Dr. Kaiyu Guan is an Assistant Professor in ecohydrology and geoinformatics in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), with a joint appointment as a Blue Waters professor affiliated with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). Before joining UIUC, he was a post-doctoral scholar working with Prof. David Lobell in the Center of Food Security and the Environment and Department of Environmental Earth System Science, Stanford University, where he researched climate change impacts and adaptations on crop production and food security in West Africa and the United States. He holds a Ph.D. from Princeton University, where he studied how hydrological variability impacts vegetation dynamics (vegetation phenology, ecosystem productivity, and biome distributions) in the African continent using multiple remote sensing datasets and ecosystem/land surface models (e.g. SEIB and VIC).

Dr. Greg Thoma,
University of Arkansas
Expand

Dr. Greg Thoma served as director for research and is currently senior advisor to The Sustainability Consortium, a joint effort of the University of Arkansas and Arizona State University, with a membership of over 90 national and multinational corporations, governmental organizations, and NGOs. The Consortium is focused on measuring and improving the sustainability of consumer goods, including food. He has represented the Sustainability Consortium on the United Nations Environment Program/Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry Lifecycle Initiative board of directors, assisting in coordination of international efforts to mainstream life cycle management in the consumer goods sector. He has been on the faculty at the University of Arkansas since receiving his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering in 1994 from Louisiana State University and is a Registered Professional Engineer in the state of Arkansas. He has held the Ray C. Adam Chair in Chemical Engineering and is currently the Bates Teaching Professor in Chemical Engineering.

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Advancing from research to product development and eventual commercialization requires regulatory approval from designated national government agencies. However, information on how to navigate international and national regulatory frameworks is not widely shared among oversight review committees, principal investigators, senior scientists, post-docs, and other investigators. On November 19, 2019, the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) organized a workshop in Baltimore, Maryland with the aim of providing a basic understanding of regulatory considerations and internationally recognized issues related to field trials of investigational genetically engineered organisms and their derived products, for applications in public health, agriculture, and protection to the environment. This workshop was designed for those who have limited experience with regulatory processes within and external to the United States. During the workshop, regulatory sciences and decision-making processes that will help bridge the gap between conducting basic research and translating that research into product development were discussed.

As part of Session 3: Risk Assessment and Mitigation Tools, Dr. Andrew Roberts, Deputy Executive Director, was invited to conduct a guided problem formulation exercise with participants.

Social Media

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The agricultural sector will face a number of challenges in the years to come. Climate change will bring changing or fluctuating growth conditions and introduce new plant diseases and pests. Therefore, research in plant resilience and health, pest and disease control, and sustainable agriculture are vital. New agricultural technologies are needed, and plant biologicals can be part of the solution if new methods and products are developed and tested to ensure efficacy.

At the 2019 Plant Biologicals Network Symposium, different areas where biologicals might help to solve the global challenges that agriculture is currently facing were explored. Dr. Morven McLean, ILSI Research Foundation Executive Director, delivered the keynote presentation on how biology-based technologies can contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Visit the Plant Biologicals Network website to learn more about the 2019 Plant Biologicals Network Symposium, view session descriptions, and access the agenda

 

Abstract

How Biology-Based Technologies Can Contribute to Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

Morven A. McLean, Ph.D., ILSI Research Foundation, USA

When we look at the social, economic and environmental impacts of climate volatility and extreme weather events, it’s clear that transformation of our agricultural systems is both a societal and environmental imperative.  How can we sustainably increase agricultural production and improve food and nutrition security for populations around the world, and particularly in those areas most vulnerable to the effects of climate change?

Innovations in plant biologicals product development make clear there is a significant role for their application in addressing these challenges.  However, realizing the benefits of biologicals for sustainable agricultural production requires an enabling policy environment and a predictable and transparent path to commercialization.  Regulation, when considered necessary, should be properly contextualized and commensurate with plausible risks, so that moving from product development to deployment at scale is achievable by public and private sector institutions alike.  This presentation will explore the promise of plant biologicals to helping achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Goal 2: Zero Hunger, Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation, Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production, Goal 14: Life Below Water and Goal 15: Life on Land.  It will also consider some lessons learned from the regulation of genetically engineered organisms, where asynchronous approaches to risk assessment, regulation and decision-making have constrained innovation and contributed to trade disruptions, and how these experiences may be instructive as more plant biologicals move to market.

Social Media

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The ILSI Research Foundation's South Asia Biosafety (SABP) Program sponsored the technical session on Biosafety and the Environment at the 4th International Conference of Biotechnology on Health and Agriculture (4th IPFS-ICBHA 2019). Jointly organized by the Global Network of Bangladeshi Biotechnologists (GNOBB) and Innovation in Plant and Food Sciences, the 4th IPFS-ICBHA 2019 took place at Nabab Nawab Ali Chowdhury Senate Bhaban, Dhaka University, on November 11-13, 2019. Convened every two years, the conference provides a platform for Bangladeshi biotechnologists from around the world to meet and exchange thoughts, ideas, and experimental findings, as well as build capacity and create awareness about the latest trends in biotechnology. The three-day event included 22 sessions and concurrent workshops.

During the technical session on Biosafety and the Environment, Dr. Andrew Roberts, ILSI Research Foundation Deputy Executive Director, delivered a presentation about the context of biosafety for biotechnology researchers, and Dr. Aparna Islam, SABP Country Manager, discussed the regulatory system in Bangladesh.

More information about the conference is available on the GNOBB website.

Abstract Presentation: Biosafety for the Biotechnologist – Navigation Biosafety Requirements as a Researcher
Dr. Andrew F. Roberts, Deputy Executive Director, ILSI Research Foundation

It has been nearly 50 years since the first use of recombinant DNA technology to modify the genome of a bacterium. Since then, the use of recombinant DNA organisms, together with a suite of other biotechnologies, has changed the face of biological and medical research. However, as biotechnology has moved from the laboratory into practical application, an array of political, social and regulatory issues have emerged which can confound research and development of recombinant DNA organisms. This presentation will review the history and context for biosafety regulation of recombinant DNA organisms and provide some insight into how a modern biotechnology researcher can effectively navigate biosafety regulatory requirements in pursuit of their research and the development of recombinant DNA organisms for use in food or the environment.

Photos

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