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Food for the future under spotlight

Media Release
Food for the future under spotlight at international conference in Rotorua

WELLINGTON 31st August: How to feed the world will be a major theme at the world’s top agricultural biotechnology conference which begins in Rotorua this Sunday.

Influential expatriate New Zealander Dr John Bedbrook, who is vice president of DuPont Agricultural Biotechnology, is one of a number of speakers at ABIC (Agricultural Biotechnology International Conference) 2012 who will focus on the future of food.

ABIC is held in a different location each year and brings industry professionals together to learn about the latest advances in agbiotech and discuss how technologies can be applied to global issues such as climate change, sustainability, food production and health and nutrition.

This year’s conference is hosted by NZBIO, the New Zealand biotechnology industry association and will take place from 2 – 6 September.

Dr Bedbrook says current estimates show demand for food globally is rising faster than the rate food production is increasing.

“Innovative science and technology are at the core of agriculture productivity improvements throughout history. There is no one-size-fits-all so we must leverage all the tools available – mechanisation, breeding, biotechnology and new ideas to meet increasing demands.

“One billion people around the world go to sleep at night hungry and one in six people are malnourished. We have to act now to solve this important challenge.”

ABIC 2012 has attracted an outstanding line-up of international leaders in the field of agricultural biotechnology. In addition to Dr Bedbrook, it includes:

• Dr Clive James, who established the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications to transfer crop biotechnology applications from developed nations to the developing world

• Dr Roger Beachy, former Chief Scientist in the US Department of Agriculture and Laureate of the Wolf Prize in Agriculture and;

• Distinguished Professor James Dale who directs the Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities at Queensland University of Technology

Also attending is Jack Bobo, Senior Advisor for Biotechnology in the United States Department of State. He has global responsibilities for the US in areas of trade policy, food security, climate change and development issues related to agricultural science and technology, including agricultural biotechnology.

Among other topics, Mr Bobo will be discussing the need for science-based regulations that are transparent, predictable, efficient, encourage innovation and facilitate trade.

“I am a science optimist. I believe science and technology can help us solve some of the most intractable problems facing the world, including food security and climate change.

“Unfortunately, I am a regulatory pessimist. I am deeply concerned that regulations and policies that are not consistent with actual risk will tie the hands of researchers and keep new technologies out of the hands of the farmers, who are at the front line in addressing these global challenges,” says Mr Bobo.

NZBIO President Paul Tan says ABIC 2012 provides an important platform to showcase New Zealand science and scientific capability.

“It is also an opportunity for New Zealand scientists to interact with the world’s best brains and minds in the field of agricultural biotechnology. The New Zealand science community needs to understand the technologies being developed around the world to remain competitive in a field that is important to our economy.”

Dr Bedbrook says he hopes ABIC 2012 will inspire young New Zealanders to enter the field of agricultural research and bring new innovation to agricultural productivity.

“New Zealand has a historical track record of agricultural productivity excellence. I hope this conference will encourage renewal in the debate over approaches to future innovation in New Zealand.”

The theme of ABIC 2012 is Adapting to a Changing World. Areas to be discussed include bioenergy, food and health and food security, climate change, sustainable production and technology transfer.

To find out more about ABIC 2012, visit

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