ABIC 2014 Highlights

This year’s Agricultural Biotechnology International Conference (ABIC 2014) features an exciting line-up of 42 world-renowned experts, speaking on timely and wide-ranging topics. 

Each day of the conference will focus on a different theme:
Monday: Innovation for Global Food Security
Tuesday: Strategies for Agricultural Innovation
Wednesday: Leadership for Successful Innovation

The following is a sampling of the presentations which you can hear at ABIC 2014:

Fighting for food security through ag innovation is the focus at the Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture. Norman Borlaug won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 and was credited for “having saved more lives than any other person who has ever lived.” His granddaughter Julie Borlaug has taken on the task of ensuring that Borlaug’s legacy lives on, fighting for food security by encouraging agricultural innovation in developing countries.
Julie Borlaug - Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture, College Station, TX
"Continuing the Borlaug Legacy into the Next Century"
Sunday, October 5, 2014 - 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

Global food security:

Our ability to feed ourselves in the face of rapid climate change and equally rapid increase in demand from a human population that is growing in both numbers and affluence is an issue whose importance cannot be over-stated. Agriculture must produce more food—and produce it more sustainably. Nina Fedoroff says that genetic modification (GM) has played an important role in maintaining and increasing agricultural productivity—where it is allowed. “In the best of worlds, governments would invest in helping academic scientists and small companies to test and bring GM products to market.”
Nina Fedoroff – Penn State University, University Park, PA
"Opportunities for Desert Agriculture"
Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - 9:15 am - 10:00 am

The goals of global security will not be sustainably achieved until (and unless) there is capacity in each country for research and education in agriculture, food sciences, and nutrition, and for strong political and social leadership within and between countries. Because of the technical, political, social, and economic priorities of both producer and importing nations there are many opportunities to contribute to the effort.
Roger Beachy – World Food Center, UC-Davis, CA
"Meeting Global Challenges for Food Security"
Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - 2:15 pm - 3:00 pm

Looming land scarcity, the ensuing global scramble for farmland, and the ongoing loss of environmentally valuable forests to agricultural expansion will be a challenge to food security. Derek Byerlee will discuss the challenges, and review the evidence of the impacts of crop intensification on land use and deforestation, including the impact of crop genetic improvement.
Derek Byerlee – Stanford University, Stanford, CA
"Confronting Global Land Scarcity through Sustainable Crop Yield Growth"
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
3:30 pm - 4:00 pm

Nutrient enhancement in crops:

Saving lives and eyesight in impoverished countries was the goal of Ingo Potrykus when he came up with the idea of Golden Rice, which is genetically modified to contain high levels of beta carotene, which the body needs to produce vitamin A. Even though the technology has been proven safe and effective, it is still not available to the people who would benefit. Potrykus will discuss the challenges and progress to date.
Ingo Potrykus – Professor Emeritus, ETH Zuerich, Magden, Switzerland
"Progress and Challenges in Developing Golden Rice"
Monday, October 6, 2014, 9:15am – 10:00 am (Salon ABC)

Sorghum is a staple food crop of millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa. These people cannot afford a well-balanced diet that includes fruit, vegetables and meat. Africa Biofortified Sorghum (ABS) project is working to increase micronutrients in sorghum to combat nutritional deficiencies which result in poor health, stunting and blindness, especially in children. Marc Albertsen will discuss the progress of ABS.
Marc Albertsen - DuPont
“Partnering for Innovation in Africa: Biofortified Sorghum and Nitrogen Use Efficient Maize”
Monday, October 6, 2014 - 4:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Insect and disease control:

Genetically modified mosquitoes have been released in Brazil to stop the spread of dengue fever. Oxitec’s OX513A Aedes aegypti mosquito has received regulatory approval in Brazil and further testing is underway. Oxitec’s technology has also been successfully transferred to malaria-carrying species. Simon Warner, Chief Scientist from Oxitec says “GM technology can and does add real value to improve medicine, public health, agriculture and industrial technology.”
Simon Warner - Oxitec Ltd. Abingdon, UK
"Application of Oxitec Technology in the Biological Control of Agricultural and Public Health Pests"
Tuesday, October 7, 2014 - 4:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Citrus crops worldwide are threatened by citrus greening disease, caused by a deadly plant-infecting bacterium transmitted through the Asian citrus psyllid. An emerging technology based on ribonucleic acid interference (RNAi) turns an insects’ natural defense system against itself. RNAi is based on genetic sequences and can be made to produce highly specific pest management products which enables targeting of single pests species, while protection beneficial insects.
Wayne Hunter United States Department of Agriculture, Fort Pierce, FL
"Challenges and considerations for RNAi-based technologies in insect and disease management"
Tuesday, October 7, 2014 - 1:30 pm - 2:00 pm

Livestock innovation:

While meat consumption is levelling off in the North, demand is soaring in the South, a trend expected to continue over the coming five decades. This will create challenges, including increased diseases of both people and livestock, zoonotic and emerging diseases transmitted from animals to people, low tropical animal productivity, scarce livestock feed and forage, environmental harm caused by livestock rearing, and climate change due to greenhouse gas emissions from livestock. Technological advances in vaccine development, genomics, synthetic biology and other fast-moving fields, if applied broadly to the livestock sector, could be game changers for developing countries, where most animal production will occur.
Suzanne Bertrand - International Livestock Research Institute, Nairobi, Kenya
"Biotechnology tools can address our biggest livestock production challenges to 2050"
Monday, October 6, 2014 - 10:30 am - 11:15 am

Emerging technologies:

3D printed food is something we expect to see in science fiction. However, it is coming closer to reality, with NASA contracting Systems & Materials Research Corp. to study the possibility of using 3D printing of food for long-term space missions. However, David Irvin and his co-inventor Anjan Contractor assure that the earthly applications of the technology are no less promising.
David Irvin- "3D Printed Food: From Nouveau Gastronomy to Basic Nutrition"
Tuesday, October 7, 2014 - 2:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Click here to read biographies and abstracts of all ABIC 2014 speakers