World’s top agbiotech conference to visit the ‘down under’ region
21 June 2012:
The world’s leading agricultural biotechnology event, ABIC (Agricultural Biotechnology International Conference) 2012, is coming to our region this year with the annual event to be held in Rotarua, New Zealand, hosted by NZBIO with the support of AusBiotech.
The event will attract industry leaders, researchers and scientists, investors and policy makers from around the world.
Some of the world’s most influential leaders in agbiotech will speak at the conference, including Dr Clive James, founder of ISAAA (International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications), a not-for-profit organisation set up to transfer crop biotechnology applications to farmers in developing countries.
Dr Roger Beachy, a former Chief Scientist in the US Department of Agriculture, Laureate of the Wolf Prize in Agriculture, and known world-wide for his ground breaking development of virus-resistant plants, is also attending.
A key issue for him is encouraging development of technologies that will significantly reduce, and eventually eliminate, the need to spray food crops with agrichemicals.
“I am amongst the large group of scientists that wants to see agrichemicals fade out of the picture in 20 years. ABIC is a place to talk about how we get there.
“We also need to ensure development of biotechnologies to enhance the safety and nutritional value of food as well as the quantities that are produced.”
Dr Beachy says: “We know that many fruits and vegetables have high levels of vitamins and other positive nutritional properties and contribute to improved human health and prevention of disease. Once we have better information about how the nutrients in foods enhance health, scientists will have a better roadmap to lead molecular breeding efforts to produce seeds that will deliver food with maximum health benefits.”
Dr Beachy says ABIC has a unique place on the international calendar, bringing cutting edge research together with organisations and businesses that can translate the science into products while also providing a forum to discuss regulatory issues around crops developed through biotechnology.
Another speaker at the event, Dr T.J. Higgins, an Honorary Fellow at the CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, says ABIC is a proven forum for connecting innovations to downstream applications.
His focus is developing countries where agriculture has the potential to reduce poverty and improve education. “Getting people fed is the first step to getting them educated,” he says.
“We are in a golden age for advances in plant and animal genetics. Some of these are trickling down to poorer economies but more slowly than I would like. My goal is to see expressions like ‘Starved for Science’ (which has been used to describe the continent of Africa) disappear from the language.”
Dr Roger Hellens, Science Group Leader at Plant & Food Research, chairs the group which has drawn up the five-day ABIC program. He says it is tailored to the region’s unique strengths.
The Chief Executive of NZBIO, Dr Suzanne Bertrand says New Zealand’s experience in partnerships and collaboration delivers another advantage for delegates attending ABIC 2012. “The world is facing major challenges in the production and delivery of food, the ability to feed growing populations and the quality of what people are eating. New Zealand has an outstanding track record in coming up with creative and sustainable solutions in this area.”
ABIC 2012 takes place from 2 – 6 September and its theme is Adapting to a Changing World.
To view the program for ABIC 2012, visit: www.abic2012.com/index.cfm/programme/