The 29th International Horticultural Congress | Sustaining Lives, Livelihoods and Landscapes | 17-22 August 2014
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Welcome to the 3rd International Genetically Modified Organisms in Horticulture Symposium – Past, Present and Future

Symposium sponsored by the OECD's Co-operative Research Programme on Biological Resource Management for Sustainable Agricultural Systems

A one-day Symposium “GMOs in horticulture – past, present and future” will provide a cross-disciplinary forum for policy makers, scientists and industry from around the world to consider policy issues relevant to the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in horticulture.

The Symposium will culminate in a panel discussion Exploitation and progress of GMOs – exciting opportunities or a dead end? This will inform the development of a policy paper Use of GMOs in Horticulture that will be widely distributed internationally to influence policy makers to make informed decisions on this topic in the future.

Presentations will address the following questions:

  • Impacts of biotech on biodiversity and benefits of GMOs to growers
  • GM crops and damage to country image: much ado about nothing?
  • Transgene Flow in Genetically Engineered Papaya
  • New developments in GMO science
  • GMOs in horticulture – exciting opportunities or a dead end? A case study in bananas
  • Biosafety regulation systems – a straightjacket to progress or necessary caution?
  • Biotechnology & biosafety activities at OECD – a policy development perspective
  • Exploring the dichotomies between GMO regulation and food equity in developing regions
  • Are GMOs safe to eat? Current, inadequate requirements for feeding studies and what happens when you exceed them
  • GMO Regulation in Australia
  • Consumer attitudes towards biotechnology
  • Acceptance of disease resistant GM rootstocks for non-GM fruit
  • Nutritional implications of GMOs


Dr. Bart Panis’ research focuses on plant tissues culture with all its possible applications; cryopreservation, somatic embryogenesis, protoplast culture and transformation. In 1994, he co-developed the world’s first transgenic banana. Additionally, he co-ordinated many international projects dealing with plant cryopreservation and developed with Bioversity International the world banana cryobank. In 2013, he started working for Bioversity International.

Vicki Lane is a Science Leader with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry in Queensland, Australia. Vicki manages a research, development and extension program in the Horticulture & Forestry Science division and has extensive experience in science policy and administration.

Professor Rod Drew has an active teaching and research program in Horticulture at Griffith University, Brisbane. His research has focussed on genetic improvement, particularly disease resistance, in papaya. He is passionate about using horticultural crops to alleviate malnutrition worldwide. He has chaired the Commission for Molecular Biology and In Vitro Culture and convened several successful ISHS symposia.

Plenary Speakers

Plenary speakers are listed on the Plenary Speaker page.

Keynote Speaker

Ms. Carpenter has been working on agricultural policy issues for the past seventeen years, particularly on issues related to genetically engineered crops, including socio-economic impacts, impacts on biodiversity, and US and international regulatory frameworks. She has published over 30 journal articles, book chapters and reports on genetically engineered crops, pest management and other agricultural issues. She has held positions with the US Agency for International Development, overseeing the agency's biosafety capacity building programs, and USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Biotechnology Regulatory Services, working primarily on international negotiations on the regulation of agricultural biotechnology. She currently works as a consultant based in Central Massachusetts.

John Knight is a Professor in Marketing at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. He teaches innovation and new product development and also branding. He has particular interest in factors affecting adoption of new technology. He has conducted research on country image and factors that enhance or damage it. He has investigated potential impact of genetic modification technology on perceptions of overseas distribution channel gatekeepers and also end consumers in regard to New Zealand's country image in overseas markets. His research findings have been published in a wide range of marketing journals, but also in Nature Biotechnology, Science Communication, and Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

Renate Müller is Professor of Floriculture and Translational Plant Science at Copenhagen University, Denmark. She combines a strong background from industries with a scientific focus on genetics, physiology and postharvest biology of ornamental plants. She holds a PhD in Horticultural Science and a DSc in Plant Science. Since 15 years, Renate Müller’s research explores genetic and physiological factors, which determine plant quality. Renate Müller’s research field covers topics within hormone signaling, flower physiology and reproduction biology, molecular breeding and genetic modification of ornamental plants. Her special expertise lies within genetic transformation and alternative biotechnological tools aiming in plant quality improvement. In translational science approaches she seeks to transfer basic science findings to valuable products and technologies. In the future, there will be a great demand for new plant varieties, as well as a need to develop new targeted methods and technologies within molecular plant breeding. Her research is strengthened by her international network and many of her cooperation projects involve industrial partners.

Jeff Stein serves as the Asia Coordinator and Biosafety Advisor for the USAID funded Program for Biosafety Systems. In this role, Jeff provides biosafety and regulatory support for public sector research programs and regulators in developing countries in Africa and Asia. He consults with regulatory agencies as they draft biosafety-related legislation, enabling regulations, and guidance documents. He shares his 25+ years of global biosafety experience with national agricultural research centers and academic institutions to build in-country scientific capacity to set guidelines for and comply with confined field trial guidelines. Jeff is also a Biosafety Advisor associated with the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, in St Louis, MO. Prior to this, he was Director of Regulatory Affairs for a private company. He works mostly in Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Jeff has served on numerous domestic and international committees that set standards for managing crops derived through biotechnology and has overseen stewardship activities. He enjoys the opportunity of working with experienced scientists in developing countries to address the political and scientific challenges to the adoption of a technology that can reduce malnutrition and disease, as well as improving the economic well-being of millions of people in developing countries.

Dr Peter Kearns is a Principal Administrator at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) where he has worked for 23 years. He is from the Environment, Health and Safety Division which addresses issues related to the safety of chemicals, nanotechnology, pesticides and biotechnology. Peter is head of OECD’s biosafety programme and is responsible for the OECD’s Working Group for the Harmonisation of Regulatory Oversight in Biotechnology and the Task Force for the Safety of Novel Foods and Feeds. The Working Group deals with issues related to the environmental safety of transgenic organisms; the Task Force covers issues relevant to food and feed safety. Both these groups comprise individuals nominated by the governments of the OECD member countries. During his time at the OECD, he has mainly focused on promoting international harmonisation in the regulation of biotechnology, nanotechnology, as well as other emerging and converging technologies. Peter has a BSc from the University of Nottingham and a PhD in Genetics from the University of Cambridge. Before OECD, he worked at the (then) UK Government Department of the Environment, where he was responsible for activities to regulate transgenic organisms.

Dr Ford holds a PhD in Plant Biotechnology from The University of Melbourne and is currently a jointly appointed Associate Professor between The University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences and Griffith University’s School of Environment. Her research interests are focused on the development of novel tools to improve the sustainability and security of plant-derived food production systems through the mitigation of biotic and/or abiotic factors that impact yield and quality of broad acre crops, and the optimization of resource inputs used for their management. Specifically, her expertise is in applied molecular plant breeding with a focus on temperate legume and broad acre crop genomics, molecular pathology and applied breeding technologies. Throughout her career, she has forged collaborative partnership with national and international Agricultural industries and institutes to address key issues retarding productivity. She was a Federal International Agricultural Research investment strategy group member and is currently a Science Executive member of the Primary Industries Climate Change Centre.

Lynda Graf has extensive experience in the scientific research environment, having worked in the fields of clinical pharmacology, biochemistry and cell biology in university departments, and plant molecular biology at CSIRO in Canberra. Until very recently, she was a Senior Scientist and co-leader of the GM team at Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ). Lynda joined FSANZ in 1998 when the regulation of GM foods was just coming into force and has been involved in the scientific evaluations and review of protocols since this time. She was the Australian delegate to the OECD Task Force for the Safety of Novel Foods and Feeds from 2007 to 2014.

Dr Craig Cormick is a social researcher and science communicator/educator. He has worked for the Innovation Department and CSIRO, and is widely published on drivers of attitudes towards new technologies. He has been conducting public attitude research into attitudes towards genetically modified organisms over 15 years, and has taken part in OECD and APEC working groups on methods of better engaging the public on contentious technologies. His awards include a joint Australian Best Practice Award from the International Association of Public Participation and a Queensland Premier’s Literary Award, and an Unsung Hero of Science Communication Award.

Associate Professor Neena Mitter, at Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, the University of Queensland is one of Queensland’s leading biotechnologists, having been involved in molecular biology and biotechnology in Australia and India for over 15 years. The plant and microbial biotechnology group led by her focuses on developing novel and innovative RNA silencing based biotechnological approaches towards management of pests and diseases. She has won the Women in Technology (WiT) University of Queensland Biotech Researcher award for her involvement in innovative projects such as the development of a Phytophthora resistant avocado rootstocks and nanoparticle based needle-free vaccine delivery. She is also the winner of Queensland International fellowship to work with Washington State University for developing novel approaches to virus diseases of crop plants. Her current focus on avocado is broad based from disease resistance to germplasm conservation to clonal propagation technologies.

Dr Thierry Vrain is a retired soil biologist and genetic engineer. He spent his whole research career with the Department of Agriculture in Canada. He was the head of a research group of 40 professionals in Biotechnology, the Vice President and President of national and international associations of soil biologists, and an Associate Editor of several scientific Journals in Europe and in the USA. His research covered biological control, chemical control and resistance breeding, biochemistry, genetic engineering, and molecular taxonomy of nematodes. He pioneered the use of non coding ribosomal DNA sequences to identify nematodes. His universal DNA primers were used to identify all plant parasitic nematodes, entomophagous nematodes, and even fungi. He has published the results of my collaborations with 57 researchers from 14 countries and states in over 200 refereed publications, book chapters, Abstracts and technical summaries.