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BIGMAP Conference To Focus On Sustainability, Co-Existence

BIGMAP Conference To Focus On Sustainability, Co-Existence

Iowa State University's annual conference looking at safety issues for genetically modified agricultural products will be held April 19-20. This year experts will focus the discussion on sustainability and co-existence issues for crop production.

Iowa State University's Biosafety Institute for Genetically Modified Agricultural Products on April 19 and 20 will welcome experts from around the world to share current research and perspectives for a symposium titled "Co-existence, Choice and Sustainability for Crop Production."

This is BIGMAP's eighth annual conference and the 2011 meeting runs from 1:30 to 6 p.m. April 19; and from 8:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. April 20 at the Gateway Hotel and Conference Center, 2100 Green Hills Drive, Ames.

"Co-existence is defined as differing systems existing and prospering in the same place, and at the same time," says Manjit Misra, director of BIGMAP. "This year's symposium speakers will address all technologies, regardless of whether they are organic, biotech or conventional, to meet the grand challenges."

Important to assure choice in types of crops, cropping systems

"Our hope," says Jeff Wolt, an ISU professor of agronomy and co-organizer of the event, "is for symposium participants to gain a shared understanding of the importance for assuring choice in the types of crops and cropping systems that will support expanding worldwide needs for food, feed, fiber and fuel production."

Presenters at this year's symposium will address various perspectives on sustainability and co-existence as they relate to maintaining vibrant agricultural enterprises in Iowa and the world. "The speakers will discuss the sometimes-differing ways that sustainability and co-existence are viewed in terms of crop production needs in the developed and developing world," he adds.

Lineup of speakers and topics on various biotech related issues

Presentations for the first day include Peter Jahr, member of the European Parliament, speaking on "Co-existence in the European Union"; Getachew Belay, senior biotechnology policy adviser for the Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa, discussing "The Role of Biotechnology and Biosafety Arrangements for Food Security in Africa"; Maria Alejandra Sarquis, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture representative for Chile and executive secretariat of the Southern Agriculture Council, presenting "Food Choice and Trade"; Lois Wright Morton, professor of sociology at ISU, addressing "Sustainability and Resilience Concepts Applied to Agriculture"; and Chet Boruff, chief executive office of the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies, presenting "Role of Seed Certification in Crop Production."

The second day of the symposium will include Jim Bair, vice president of the North American Millers' Association, discussing "Low Level Presence in the Food Supply"; Lowell Rheinheimer, farm resources manager at Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative, speaking on "Maintaining Organic Integrity Within a Sea of Transgenics: How Organic Valley is Responding to the Dilemma of Unwanted GMO Contamination"; Lynn Clarkson, president of Clarkson Grain company presenting "Maintaining Purity for Identity Preservation"; Kathleen Delate, professor of agronomy and horticulture at ISU, on "Integrated Crop Management and Organic Agriculture"; and Rick Hellmich, research entomologist for USDA-ARS, presenting "Halo Effects of Bt Crops."

Anyone interested in attending BIGMAP event should register ahead

Rikin Gandhi, executive officer of Digital Greenwill, will also speak on "Sustainable Agriculture and Technology for Socioeconomic Development"; Dick Thompson, a Boone County, Iowa, producer, will discuss "Practioner's Perspectives on Sustainable Crop Management"; Marty Matlock, professor of biological and ag engineering at the University of Arkansas, will speak on "Measuring Sustainability in Agriculture"; and Dennis Garrity, director general of the World Agroforestry Center, will address "Evergreen Agriculture, A Robust Approach to Food Crop Production Sustainability in the Tropics."

Anyone interested in attending the symposium can register by calling 515-294-6222 or visiting

The symposium was made possible with funds from the Food, Feed and Fuel Initiative: Iowa and the USDA. The Biosafety Institute for Genetically Modified Agricultural Products provides public-based expertise in risk assessment, communication and mitigation strategies for agricultural biotechnology. For more information about BIGMAP, visit

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