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MEDIA ADVISORY: International Scientists Discuss Future of Food at Symposium Hosted by MU

Symposium is part of international congress, which is meeting in the U.S. for the first time in 18 years

October 29th, 2009

Story Contact: Christian Basi, 573-882-4430, BasiC@missouri.edu

WHAT: Internationally acclaimed scientists will discuss the future of feeding the world as a part of a symposium hosted by the University of Missouri at the ninth International Plant Molecular Biology (IPMB) Congress. The congress will take place in St. Louis, marking the first time the congress will be held in the North American continent in 18 years.

Speakers at the symposium, “Feeding the planet in the 21st century under climate variability and change: commodity chains, biodiversity, sustainability,” will discuss how to feed the world with decreasing resources and a growing world population.  The discussion will be moderated by Gary Toenniessen, managing director at The Rockefeller Foundation.

MU is hosting the symposium as part of a Food for the Future initiative, which was developed to highlight MU’s comparative advantage in food-related research. The university will build on its agribusiness and nutrition programs and relationships with other research partners. 

The IPMB Congress brings together internationally renowned scientists to discuss the challenges of feeding the growing population and the role molecular biology will play. A number of MU faculty members from the interdisciplinary plant group will speak at the congress. This is one of 54 symposia that will be held during the congress.

WHO: Speakers will include:

  • Gary Toenniessen, managing director at The Rockefeller Foundation
  • Marianne Bänziger, deputy director general for research and partnerships at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Nairobi, Kenya and Mexico
  • Jack Schultz, director of the Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center at the University of Missouri
  • Peter Raven, director of the Missouri Botanical Garden and Engelmann Professor of Botany at Washington University in St. Louis
  • Peter Langridge, chief executive officer and director of the Adelaide node of the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics
  • Pierre Lagoda, section head of the plant breeding and genetics section of the UN’s joint FAO(Food and Agriculture Organization)/IAEA(International Atomic Energy Agency) program in Vienna

For more information about speakers, see attached biographies.

WHERE: America’s Center Convention Complex, St. Louis.     

WHEN: 1 – 3 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 29

NOTE: For more information or to register for the conference visit: http://www.ipmb2009.org.

            Symposium Speaker’s Biographies

Gary H. Toenniessen 

Toennissen serves as the managing director at The Rockefeller Foundation where he directs strategies for the foundation’s initiatives in agricultural development. Until recently, he served as interim president of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. Toennissen co-authored and edited Rice Biotechnology and Securing the Harvest: Biotechnology, Breeding and Seed Systems for African Crops.

Marianne Bänziger

Through her research and work, Bänziger has developed an in-depth understanding of the challenges and opportunities associated with increasing food production in the developing world. She serves as the deputy director for research and partnerships at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), an international, not-for-profit research and training organization. The center seeks to increase food security, improve productivity and profitability of maize and wheat farming systems, and sustain natural resources. Prior to her role as director, she led the CIMMYT African Livelihoods Program and the Global Maize Program. Bänziger received her doctorate from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH in Zurich. 

Peter Langridge

Langridge is the chief executive officer and director of the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics, a program established by the Australian government in 2003 to develop new genetic technologies for crop improvement. Working largely with wheat and barley, research at the center is targeted at enhancing the tolerance of crops to environmental stresses, particularly drought.

Pierre Lagoda

Since 2004, Lagoda has served as section head of the plant breeding and genetics section of the UN’s joint FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization)/IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) program. The program assists UN member countries in using nuclear techniques and related biotechnologies for developing new strategies for sustainable food security.

Peter H. Raven

Raven is one of the main organizers of the IPMB Congress. Since 1971, he has served as the director of the Missouri Botanical Garden. He also is the Engelmann Professor of Botany at Washington University in St. Louis. He has co-authored many scientific works including Coevolution of Insects and Plants and the Biology of Plants. In 2000, the American Society of Plant Taxonomists established the Peter Raven Award to recognize authors with outstanding contributions to plant taxonomy and “for exceptional efforts at outreach to non-scientists.”

Jack Schultz

Schultz is director of the Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center at the University of Missouri where he promotes and develops interdisciplinary research among 35 scientists whose interests range from plant breeding to electrical engineering. Schultz’s research focuses on how plants detect, identify and respond to insects’ attacks. Previously, Schultz discovered that plants emit volatiles, or odors, in response to insects’ attacks. This discovery stimulated research efforts to develop applications in agriculture, environmental monitoring and plant defense. He is a distinguished professor of entomology emeritus at The Pennsylvania State University.

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