U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman has announced a Ministerial-level Conference on Agricultural Science and Technology will be held June 23-25, 2003 in Sacramento, Calif., to address access to technologies, new scientific research, the relationship between regulatory practices and innovation and the creation of partnerships to help developing countries adopt new technologies to increase agricultural productivity. "Technology is one of the most powerful tools we have to achieve the goals of increasing agricultural productivity, ending famine and improving nutrition," Veneman said during remarks to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). "This conference will focus on the needs of developing countries in adopting new food and agricultural technologies. We will look at the role of partnerships and ways to share the benefits of technology." Veneman called for the meeting in June at the June 2002 World Food Summit: Five Years Later in Rome, where she reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to ending global hunger and poverty, noting that increased agricultural productivity would be one major step toward greater food availability and access in poor countries. Ministers of agriculture and other areas, including environment and trade, from more than 180 nations will be invited. In addition to ministers, the conference will include speakers and technical experts from U.S. and foreign government agencies, international organizations and research institutes, private industry, non-governmental organizations, universities, state departments of agriculture, and members of Congress. A Technology Expo will run concurrently with the conference. Veneman pointed out that the economic gap between the developed and developing world is growing. Efforts under way to address narrowing this difference include working with international research centers to improve agricultural productivity throughout the developing world, increasing food production, reducing hunger and malnutrition and elevating living standards for people in rural areas. Veneman said that developed countries all have extensive bilateral assistance efforts to facilitate growth. "The United States is reinvigorating and expanding its efforts. President Bush announced in March of this year our commitment to expand foreign development assistance by 50 percent in three years. That assistance is to be channeled through a new innovative approach, the Millennium Challenge Account." In her remarks at IFPRI, Veneman also discussed other aspects of the Bush administration's trade goals saying trade expansion is the most powerful economic development engine of all and a critical tool for hastening the global development process. She stressed the importance of the efforts to reform and liberalize the world's trading system for food and agricultural products through the multilateral negotiations of the Doha Development Agenda, as well as other negotiations such as those to create the Free Trade Area of the Americas, several other regional negotiations and numerous bilateral negotiations being conducted by many countries.