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Feeding a Hot and Hungry Planet: Featured Speakers

Feeding a Hot and Hungry Planet

Featured Speakers

Speakers and Moderators

Charles Benbrook

Dr. Charles Benbrook serves as the Chief Scientist of The Organic Center in Oregon.

Benbrook worked in Washington, D.C. on agricultural policy, science and regulatory issues from 1979 through 1997. He served for 1.5 years as the agricultural staff expert on the Council for Environmental Quality; from 1981-1983, he was the Executive Director of the Subcommittee on Department Operations, Research, and Foreign Agriculture, U.S. House of Representatives; from 1984-1990, he served as the Executive Director, Board on Agriculture, National Academy of Sciences; he ran Benbrook Consulting Services from 1991 through 2006.

Benbrook has a PhD in agricultural economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an undergraduate degree from Harvard University. He holds an adjunct faculty position in the Crop and Soil Sciences Department, Washington State University.

Tracy Blackmer

Dr. Tracy Blackmer is the Director of Research at the Iowa Soybean Association. He also directs the ISA On-Farm Network® and is the principal investigator on more than a dozen different projects involving the use of precision agriculture technologies in farmer-directed research to improve crop production profitability and reduce the impact of farming on the environment. These projects include evaluating new products, production practices, and fine-tuning rates, application timing and method for production inputs such as fertilizer and pesticides.

Prior to joining the Iowa Soybean Association, Dr. Blackmer worked for Monsanto Corporation, heading up projects using new and precision ag technologies in crop production. In this capacity, he helped organize producers groups to conduct on-farm studies of new products, and new seed genetics, while also evaluating the various precision ag tools that were available at the time.

He received his B.S. in agronomy from Iowa State University, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in agronomy from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. While at Nebraska, Dr. Blackmer worked on incorporating remote sensing technologies into precision farming practices. After receiving his Ph.D., he worked as a soil scientist for the USDA-ARS at Lincoln, Nebraska, focusing on improving N management in corn using aerial remote sensing and ground sensors on high-clearance applicators.

"The Quandary Over Fertilizer – How Do We Feed Our Crops While Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions?"

Sharon Bomer

Sharon Bomer Lauritsen is Executive Vice President of the Food and Agriculture Section at the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and 31 other nations, which are involved in the research and development of healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.

Ms. Bomer assumed the position of Executive Vice President in May 2007 and leads and manages BIO’s Food and Agriculture Section on public policy activities, including overseeing relationships with a wide range of international, federal, state and local entities. She also serves as the Executive Director for the Council for Biotechnology Information, a trade association which communicates science-based information about the benefits and safety of agricultural and food biotechnology.

Ms. Bomer joined BIO in February 2006 as Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for the Food and Agriculture Section responsible for international matters. Prior to joining BIO, Ms. Bomer served as Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Agricultural Affairs, Executive Office of the President, where she was responsible for U.S. government negotiations on a wide range of food and agriculture trade issues.

Prior to serving at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Ms. Bomer held senior management positions in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service. Early in her career, she was Director of Government Affairs for United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association and worked for a Member of Congress.

"Agricultural Biotechnology: Success Through Science Based Regulations"

Howarth Bouis

Howarth Bouis is Director of HarvestPlus. He coordinates an interdisciplinary, global alliance of research centers and implementing agencies to biofortify and disseminate micronutrient-dense staple food crops and to measure their impact in improving nutrition. Since 1993, he has sought to promote biofortification activities both within the Future Harvest Centers, including their NARES partners, and in the international nutrition community -- through publications, seminars, workshops, symposiums, and fund-raising.

Bouis holds a joint appointment at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington, D.C. where he is based, and the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Cali, Colombia. He joined IFPRI in 1982, as a post-doctoral fellow in the Food Consumption and Nutrition Division (FCND), and later as Research Fellow and Senior Research Fellow in FCND. His research concentrated on understanding how economic factors affect food demand and nutrition outcomes, particularly in Asia.

He received his B.A. in economics from Stanford University and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford University's Food Research Institute. Before entering graduate school, he spent three years in the Philippines with Volunteers in Asia.

"Breeding Crops for Better Nutrition"

David Castle

David Castle holds the Canada Research Chair in Science and Society and is Associate Professor at the University of Ottowa in Ottowa, Ontario, Canada. His research addresses the interaction between science and technology innovation and society, particularly the ethical and legal issues posed by new biotechnology.

He is the principal investigator on the Genome Canada funded project Knowledge Management and Food Security and is the principal investigator on the Social Issues in Nutritional Genomics: the Design of Appropriate Regulatory Systems and Issues of Public Representations and Understanding which is supported by the Advanced Foods and Materials Network.

Castle’s books include Genetically Modified Foods: Debating Biotechnology, Science, Society and the Supermarket: Opportunities and Challenges for Nutrigenomics, and Aquaculture, Innovation and Social Transformation. He has also published in Biology and Philosophy, Dialectica, American Journal of Bioethics and Trends in Biotechnology, and Public Affairs Quarterly.

"Ethical Challenges to the Adoption of Technologies"
"Environmental Benefits from HT Canola Production"

Maarten Chrispeels

Maarten J. Chrispeels is Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of California San Diego and the Director of the San Diego Center for Molecular Agriculture. His scientific research is in the area of plant cell and molecular biology. He has made major contributions to our understanding of the synthesis of reserve proteins in seeds. He and his co-workers discovered plant aquaporins, the proteins that permit water to pass through plant cell membranes. He has trained more than 50 PhD students and postdoctoral researchers, many of whom now occupy important positions in the USA and overseas. His laboratory has published more than 225 research paper and 50 reviews and book chapters. With David Sadava he has co-authored the textbook "Plants, Genes and Crop Biotechnology" (2001). Recently he edited a book on Agricultural Ethics.

Professor Chrispeels has extensive contacts in Latin America and presently serves as the convener of the advisory panel for the Millennium Science Initiative in Chile. He has helped to organize workshops and meetings in Chile and Mexico. He has consulted for The World Bank in Uganda and for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on biofortification. He has consulted for different agricultural biotechnology companies (Monsanto, Mycogen) and is a cofounder of two biotechnology companies: Phylogix Inc in the USA and Arterra Biosciences srl. In Naples, Italy. He has given conferences all over the world. In 2006 he was invited to give a scientific presentation at the Spoleto Festival (Festival dei Due Mondi). In the area of crop biotechnology, Chrispeels collaborated with Dr. TJ Higgins from Australia. They used gene transfer technologies to produce the first insect resistant seeds by transferring a gene from the common bean to the garden pea. As director of the San Diego Center for Molecular Agriculture, Chrispeels has become a spokesperson/educator about crop biotechnolgy and foods from genetically modified crops. He recently produced a highly successful brochure entitled "Foods from GM Crops" that has been translated in 5 languages and distributed worldwide. He has given one-week long courses in crop biotechnology in 2006 in Italy (Naples) and in 2008 in Mexico (Cuernavaca).

In 1996 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences of the US, and in 2000 he received a Doctor honoris causa, degree from the University of Guelph in Canada. In 2004 he was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and in 2007 he was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Plant Biologists.

A native of Belgium, he came to the US in 1960 after graduating with a MSc degree from the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Ghent. In 1964 he obtained a PhD in Agronomy from the University of Illinois. In 1967 he joined the faculty of the Department of Biology at the University of California San Diego. His professional service includes numerous government and industry advisory panels and appointment as Editor in Chief of Plant Physiology from 1992 to 2000. In 1996 he received the Stephen Hales Award from the American Society of Plant Physiologists.

"Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security: Does Biotechnology Have a Role?"

Gidon Eshel

Gidon Eshel is a physics professor at Bard College in New York. Gidon teaches and researches both basic climate physics and mechanisms as well as climate science as it pertains to food production.

Eshel holds a Ph.D., M.Phil. and M.A. in geophysics from Columbia University in New York City, and a Bachelor's degree from the Technion, in Israel.

Eshel is the author, with Pamela Martin, of "Diet, Energy and Global Warming" and “Geophysics and Nutritional Science: Toward a Novel, Unified Paradigm," and the forthcoming "Dietary Choices' Effects on Land Use and Reactive Nitrogen Discharge."

An Israeli by birth, Gidon grew up on a Kibutz, and spent his youth in the Kibutz's 1,000-head Holstein dairy farm. After his military service, and before becoming an academic, Gidon spent several years raising beef cattle in northern Israel and the Golan Heights.

Eshel lectures widely on food-climate interactions, and is an avid bicyclist and outdoorsman.

"Food and the Global Environment"

Jonathan Foley

Jonathan Foley is the director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of the Minnesota, where he is also a professor and McKnight Presidential Chair in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior.

Foley’s work focuses on complex global environmental systems and their interactions with human societies. He and his students have contributed to our understanding of large-scale ecosystem processes, global patterns of land use, the behavior of the planet’s climate and water cycles, and the sustainability of our biosphere.

Foley joined the University of Minnesota in 2008, after spending 15 years on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin, where he founded the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment.

He has won numerous awards and honors, including the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Award; the J.S. McDonnell Foundation’s 21st Century Science Award; an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellowship; and the Sustainability Science Award from the Ecological Society of America. In 1997, President Bill Clinton awarded him the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

"Global Landscapes Initiative"

William Freese

Bill Freese is a frequently-quoted expert on agricultural biotechnology issues with the Center for Food Safety (CFS), a non-profit group advocating sustainable agriculture. Before joining CFS as science policy analyst in 2006, Freese worked for six years on similar issues at Friends of the Earth US.

Freese has written and lectured extensively on the science, regulation and societal implications of agricultural biotechnology, including a peer-reviewed scientific paper that debunks common myths about US regulation of genetically engineered (GE) crops.

More recent work assesses the implications of agricultural biotechnology for farm economics and sustainability in the U.S., and GE crops versus other approaches to agriculture in developing countries. Bill holds a B.A. in chemistry from Grinnell College.

"The Failed Promise of Agricultural Biotechnology"

Gary Hirshberg

Gary Hirshberg is Chairman, President, and CE-Yo of Stonyfield Farm, the world’s leading organic yogurt producer, based in Londonderry, New Hampshire. The author of Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World (Hyperion Books, January, 2008), he is a world-renowned speaker on topics including sustainability, climate change, the profitability of green business, organic agriculture, socially responsible business and sustainable economic development.

For the past 26 years, Gary has overseen Stonyfield Farm’s phenomenal growth, from its infancy as a seven-cow organic farming school in 1983 to its current $320 million in annual sales. Stonyfield has enjoyed a compounded annual growth rate of over 24% for more than eighteen years, by consistently producing great-tasting products and using innovative marketing techniques that blend the company’s social, environmental, and financial missions.

In 2001, Stonyfield Farm entered into a partnership with Groupe Danone, and in 2005, Gary was named managing director of Stonyfield Europe, a joint venture between the two firms with brands in Canada, Ireland, and France.

Gary joined Stonyfield Farm a few months after its start in 1983. Initially, he directed the Rural Education Center, the small organic farming school from which Stonyfield was spawned. Previously, in addition to serving as a trustee of the farming school, Gary had served as executive director of The New Alchemy Institute – a research and education center dedicated to organic farming, aquaculture, and renewable energy.

A New Hampshire native, Gary was one of the first graduates of Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, and has received seven honorary doctorates and was named a Gordon Grand Fellow at Yale University.

Gary has won numerous awards for corporate and environmental leadership, including Global Green USA's “1999 Green Cross Millennium Award for Corporate Environmental Leadership.” He was named "Business Leader of the Year" by Business NH Magazine and "New Hampshire's 1998 Small Business Person of the Year" by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Gary serves on several corporate and non-profit boards including Applegate Farms, the Dannon Company, Honest Tea, Peak Organic Brewing Company, The Full Yield, Climate Counts, Express Soccer Club, Stonyfield Europe, Ltd, Glenisk, Ltd and the Danone Communities Fund. He is the chairman and co-founder of O’Naturals, a natural fast food restaurant company. He served on the advisory panel for Newsweek magazine's Global Environmental Leadership Conference and as an Advisor to Renewal Partners LLC, Solera Capital, the Heinz Center Leadership Summit and the Corporate Ecoforum.

"Thoughts from an Organic Entrepreneur"

P.K. Joshi

P.K. Joshi is Associate Professor and Head Department of Natural Resource with TERI University, New Delhi. He works spatial analysis tools (RS/GIS/GPS) for vegetation sciences viz., global land cover characterization, biome mapping, biodiversity characterization at landscape level, resource utilization patten analysis etc. His peer recognitions include INSA-YSM (2006), Gold-Medal IAES (2006), FIAES (2004).

"A Story of Developing World – South Asia"

Rattan Lal

Rattan Lal is a professor of soil physics in the School of Environment and Natural Resources, and Director of the Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, FAES/OARDC at The Ohio State University (OSU).

From 1968 to 1969 he was Senior Research Fellow at the University of Sydney and soil scientist at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, Nigeria from 1970 to 1987. In 1987 he joined the faculty at OSU.

He is recipient of an honorary degree of Doctor of Science from Punjab Agricultural University, India and of the Norwegian University of life Sciences in Aas, Norway. He is past president of the World Association of the Soil and Water Conservation (1987-1990), the International Soil Tillage Research Organization (1988-1991), and the Soil Science Society of America (2005-2008). He is a member of the U.S. National Committee on Soil Science of the National Academy of Sciences (1998-2002) and (2007-to date) and lead author of IPCC (1998-2000) which earned him the Nobel Peace Prize Certificate. He has served on the Panel on Sustainable Agriculture and the Environment in the Humid Tropics of the National Academy of Sciences, and has also been a consultant to FAO, World Bank, UNEP, GEF, UNDP, USAID and many other international organizations. He was Scientific Liaison Officer of USAID for the CGIAR system from 1990 to 1995, and member of the review team of all CRSPs in 1994.

He has mentored 85 graduate students and 80 postdoctoral researchers. He has hosted about 25 short term trainees/visiting scholars from India. He has authored and co-authored about 1375 research publications, has written 13 books and edited or co-edited 43 books.

He earned B.Sc from Punjab Agric. University, his M.Sc from IARI and Ph.D from OSU.

"Sequestering C in Soil"

Eric Lambin

Eric Lambin is Professor at the Department of Geography at the University of Louvain, Belgium. He was previously Assistant Professor at Boston University and Expert for the European Commission at the Joint Research Center (Ispra). He has been Chair of the Land-Use and Land-Cover Change (LUCC) programme of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) and International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP).

His research aims at better understanding land change and human-environment interactions in land systems at multiple scales of analysis. He has expertise on the monitoring of land-cover change by remote sensing and the modelling of land-use changes and some of their impacts on coupled human-environment systems.

In 2002-2003, Eric Lambin was resident as Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford. Starting January 2010, he will hold a split appointment between the University of Louvain, and the School of Earth Sciences and the Woods Institue for the Environment at Stanford University.

"From Net Deforestation to Net Reforestation in the Tropics: Pathways and Caveats"

Timothy LaSalle

Timothy J. LaSalle is CEO of the Rodale Institute, an internationally recognized leader in regenerative organic agricultural research, advocacy and education. LaSalle is the first CEO of the non-profit organization in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, which was founded in 1947 to explore the scientific foundation of organic agriculture.

Since he began work at the Institute in July 2007, he has engaged national and international policy planners on how organic farming can address the global challenges of famine prevention, global warming and human nutrition.

Previously, he was executive director of the Northwest Earth Institute in Portland, Oregon from 2006-2007, and served as interim executive director of the Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo County during a time of his advanced studies. From 2003 to 2005 he was executive director of the Savory Center, an international non-profit who mission is to restore and regenerate deteriorating landscapes for the people dependent on that land.

As president and CEO of the California Agricultural Leadership Program from 1986 to 2003, he directed an annual class of outstanding leaders in their fellowship studies in more than 80 nations while greatly expanding the program’s resource base. From 1974 to 1986 he was a full professor at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), where he taught a range of dairy science classes.

He has served on many nonprofit boards, committees and leadership groups, including roles with the Kellogg Leadership Alliance and Chaired an International Call to Action on Sustainability at EARTH University in Costa Rica.

LaSalle has completed a Ph.D. in depth psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute. He holds a master’s degree in Populations Genetics from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and a bachelor’s in science from California Polytechnic State University.

"Regenerative 21st Century Farming: A Solution to Global Warming & The Organic Green Revolution"

Autar Mattoo

Dr. Mattoo has been a research scientist for 40 years. He has spent the last 25 years with the Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture. Prior to returning to bench research in 2004, he served as a Research Leader for 16 years: nine years heading the Plant Molecular Biology Laboratory and seven years heading the Vegetable Laboratory at USDA-ARS. His accomplishments are documented in 221 publications (146 peer-reviewed papers, 48 symposium proceedings, 22 book chapters and 5 edited books). He has guided: thirty-two M.S., fifteen Ph.D. students as a major or co-major advisor, and 35 postdoctoral research associates from the U.S. and foreign countries. Dr. Mattoo has been an invited keynote speaker and/or session Chair at numerous international symposia, spanning 18 countries. Dr. Mattoo has received the highest awards from Beltsville Area (Scientist of the Year), ARS (Senior Distinguished Research Scientist of the Year), and USDA (People Making a Difference Award and Honor Award for personal and professional “Scientific Excellence”). Roper consumer survey named his creation of genetically engineered high lycopene tomatoes as the top development in food biotechnology in 2002. In 2006, the Association of Indian Americans named Dr. Mattoo Scientist of the Year. Dr. Mattoo has served on a number of advisory and consulting committees, including as a member of Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), U.S.-Israel Binational Agricultural and Development (BARD) Fund (1999-2001), US State Dept International Visiting Lecturer as Agricultural Biochemistry and Biotechnology Expert (India-2004; Philippines and Thailand-2002), Cornell-Eastern-Europe-Mexico (CEEM) Group (Poland-2001); Overseas Scientific Advisory Committee, Biotechnology, Government of India (2005-to date).

Dr. Mattoo’s current research focus is on the following areas:
Molecular Biology for Enhancing Phytonutrients in Tomato Fruit We have targeted key genes in the fruit ripening process, and those in the polyamine biosynthetic pathway to prolong the shelf-life and enhance nutritional quality of tomatoes. We have genetically engineered tomato fruit using development and stage-specific promoters for enabling continuation of anabolic processes late into ripening and accumulating cancer-preventing antioxidants such as lycopene, Vitamin C, essential amino acids, and micronutrients such as choline – an important nutrient with great potential for brain development. Detailed analysis of transgenic plants should help elucidate the key genes that control these processes.

"Value-Added GM Tomatoes are Synergistic with Sustainable Agriculture"

Jerry Melillo

Jerry Melillo is the Director of The Ecosystems Center at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and a Professor of Biology at Brown University.

His center in Woods Hole focuses on environmental research in three areas: global change; management of coastal zone ecosystems; and globalization and transformation of the tropical landscape. Professor Melillo specializes in understanding the impacts of human activities on the biogeochemistry of ecological systems, using a combination of field studies and simulation modeling.

In 1996 and 1997, he served as the Associate Director for Environment in the US President’s Office of Science and Technology Policy. Professor Melillo served terms as the President of the Ecological Society of America and of the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE), the environmental assessment body of the International Council for Science.

He is an honorary Professor in the Institute of Geophysical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, a member of the American Philosophical Society, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His publication record includes more than 200 peer-reviewed articles, two ecology textbooks and three edited volumes on biogeochemistry.

"Second Generation Biofuels: Seeking the Climate-Protective Domain"

Sophie Meunier

Sophie Meunier is a Research Scholar in Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. She is the author of Trading Voices: The European Union in International Commercial Negotiations (Princeton University Press, August 2005) and its French adaptation, L'Union fait la force: l'Europe dans les negociations commerciales internationales (Presses de Sciences Po, December 2005). She is the co-author of The French Challenge: Adapting to Globalization (with Philip Gordon, Brookings Institution Press, December 2001) and its French adaptation Le Nouveau defi francais: la France face a la mondialisation, winner of the 2002 France-Ameriques book award. She is also the editor of Making History: European Integration and Institutional Change at Fifty (Oxford University Press, with Kathleen McNamara, forthcoming in April 2007).

Dr. Meunier has published many articles on the European Union, the politics of international trade, globalization, and French politics in journals such as International Organization, Foreign Affairs, and Foreign Policy. Her current research focuses on anti-Americanism in France, the complex links between Europeanization and globalization, and the nesting/overlapping of international institutions. She is currently writing a book manuscript on the politics of French anti-Americanism and another book on the paradox of "managed globalization."

Sophie Meunier is an elected member of the Executive Committee of the European Union Studies Association (2003-2007) and Secretary of this association. She is an elected Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations (2004-2009). She is the chair of the Council of European Studies' thematic network on globalization and is a member of the Advisory Board of the journal French Politics. Meunier contributes frequently to the French media. BA Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris 1989, Ph.D. MIT 1998.

Henry Miller

Henry I. Miller, MS, MD, has been a research fellow at the Hoover Institution since 1994. His research focuses on public policy toward science and technology, especially pharmaceutical development and the new biotechnology. Dr. Miller is a widely respected expert on regulatory issues.

Between 1979 and 1994, prior to his position at the Hoover Institution, Dr. Miller worked at the Food and Drug Administration. There he held various positions involved with the regulation of drugs and biologics. He was the medical reviewer for the first drugs obtained from recombinant DNA-modified organisms evaluated by the FDA and was instrumental in the rapid licensing of human insulin and human growth hormone.

He has also served as special assistant to the FDA commissioner, and from 1989 to 1994 he was the founding director of the FDA's Office of Biotechnology. While a government official, Dr. Miller often represented the FDA or U.S. Government on panels and at conferences.

Dr. Miller has authored or co-authored six monographs, the most recent of which is "The Frankenfood Myth: How Protest and Politics Threaten the Biotech Revolution" (Praeger Publishers, 2004), and he has published extensively in prominent medical, scientific, and public affairs journals and newspapers worldwide. He serves on the editorial boards of several journals and an adjunct scholar or fellow at several think tanks, and is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards and lectureships.

"Regulation of Agbiotech: Science Shows the Way"

Xenia Morin

Xenia K. Morin is a Lecturer in the Writing Program at Princeton University. In 2005 and in 2007 Dr. Morin began teaching in the Princeton Environmental Institute's Environmental Studies Program. Her interests lie in the interplay between science, technology, and society, particularly in terms of agriculture and food production. She is concerned with a range of issues, from the acceptance of genetically modified foods to the emergence of the organic, local, and slow food movements. Dr. Morin also explores issues such as how to feed the world, food security, hunger and malnutrition, environmentalism and sustainability in agriculture, and the production of biofuels.

Morin has a Ph.D. in plant biochemistry from Cornell University and has performed post-doctoral research at EMBL in Heidelberg, Germany, The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, and at Bryn Mawr College.

Michael Obersteiner

Michael Obersteiner is the principle investigator and scientific coordinator of a number of scientific global land-use projects at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria and at the Secretariat of the Group on Earth Observations in Geneva, Switzerland. Previously he was a visiting scientist at the Institute for Economics and Industrial Organization at the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Novosibirsk, Russia. Prior to this he was a Fullbright Research Assistant at the College of Forest Resources at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington, working in the area of eco-physiological responses of plant stress.

Dr. Obersteiner has been a consultant to a number of national and international organizations, including inter alia the European Commission, OECD, and Worldbank. He is author of over 150 scientific papers and consultancy reports in the fields of land-use and decision sciences.

Dr. Obersteiner received his Ph.D. from the Institute of Forestry at the University of Agriculture and Forestry in Vienna, Austria and an M.phil from the Joint Ph.D. Program in Economics, from both Columbia University and the Institute for Advanced Studies in Vienna, Austria.

"Managing the Terrestrial Biosphere for a Hungry and Hot Planet"

Cheryl Palm

Cheryl A. Palm is a Senior Research Scientist in the Tropical Agriculture and Rural Environment Program of the Earth Institute at Columbia University where she is also the Science Director of the Millennium Villages Project. A tropical ecologist focusing on land use change, Dr. Palm received her Ph.D. in soil science from North Carolina State University after completing her bachelor's and master's degrees in zoology at the University of California, Davis. She served as Principal Research Scientist of the Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility Program in Nairobi, Kenya from 1991-2001. She has served on the faculties of North Carolina State University, Colorado State University and spent a year as visiting scientist at the University of California, Berkeley. She was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomists in 2005 and is currently the chair of the International Nitrogen Initiative (INI).

Dr. Palm’s research focuses on land use change, degradation and rehabilitation, and ecosystem services in tropical landscapes. She led a major effort quantifying carbon stocks, losses and net greenhouse gas emissions following slash and burn and alternative land use systems in the humid tropics in the Brazilian and Peruvian Amazon, Indonesia and the Congo Basin. She has spent much of the past 15 years investigating nutrient dynamics in farming systems of Africa, including options for land rehabilitation. Most recent work includes the Millennium Villages Project, an integrated approach to achieving the Millennium Development Goals in rural Sub-Saharan Africa. The approach combines evidence based interventions and community based participation. The team is currently working with the Millennium Villages sites developing carbon offset projects for carbon sequestration in degraded landscapes that will provide additional ecosystem services and benefit local communities.

"Saving Our Soils – How Can We Get Carbon Back into the World's Soils?"

Wayne Parrott

Wayne Parrott is currently a professor of Crop Science at the University of Georgia, where he has been for the past 21 years. He conducts research on the development and deployment of transgenic crop plants, and has published over 70 journal articles in refereed publications, along with 12 book chapters and three patents. He has served on the Editorial Boards of Plant Cell Reports, Plant Cell Tissue and Organ Culture, and Crop Science. He has been elected chair of the biotechnology section of the Crop Science Society of America and of the plant section of the Society for In Vitro Biology, and is a fellow of the Crop Science Society of America.

He is actively engaged in training graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, and teaches graduate-level courses in genetics and undergraduate courses in agro ecology and sustainable agriculture. The latter course is taught on-site in Costa Rica. He has traveled extensively throughout Latin America, and worked closely with legislators and regulators in the various countries with their legal and regulatory issues relating to biotechnology. He is the scientific advisor to the Biotechnology Committee of the International Life Sciences Institute, which serves to bring the best science available to help formulate regulatory policies.

Parrott is a native of Guatemala. He has a degree in agronomy from the University of Kentucky, and MS and PhD degrees in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics from the University of Wisconsin.

"Avoiding the Myths: The Scientific Basis for Agbiotech Regulation"

Jan-Erik Petersen

Since 2001 Jan-Erik Petersen has been at the European Environment Agency (EEA) in Copenhagen. The EEA is the EU body responsible for compiling and assessing information on trends in the environment in Europe. He is currently head of group for ‘major integrated assessments’ with responsibility for:

  • Coordinating the conceptual development, implementation and synthesis of integrated assessments at the EEA, with a particular focus on the 5-yearly EEA report on the ‘State of and Outlook for the Environment in Europe’ and the European Ecosystem Assessment project (Eureca) of EEA;
  • Supervising activities in the area of environment and health, as well as the development of shared indicator sets at EEA and the EU level;
  • Co-organizing with other EEA programmes the implementation of EEA projects ‘Regional and global assessments’ that link in particular to the European Neighborhood Policy of the EU;
  • Liaising with the European Commission, in particular the EU Joint Research Center, Eurostat, and DG Environment, as well as international bodies, such as the OECD, on the projects listed above as well as related activities.

Previously he was project manager responsible for the area of agriculture and environment, including contributions to major EEA reports, topic and sector reports. This involved lead responsibility for the development of agri-environmental indicators, related sectoral assessments, policy analysis and cooperation with EU institutions. He continues to guide EEA analysis on the environmental impacts of bioenergy production, including global indirect effects.

Prior to the EEA he worked as a research fellow at the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) in London, looking at EU agriculture and rural development policy, and held a post as European liaison officer for a Spanish conservation organization.

Born in Germany, he earned an undergraduate degree in biology, agro-ecology and public law from the University of Bayreuth, Germany and a PhD in political science from the University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom.

"Reducing GHG Emissions from Livestock – a European Perspective"

Prabhu Pingali

Prabhu Pingali is the Deputy Director of Agricultural Development at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Formerly, he served as Director of the Agricultural and Development Economics Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Pingali was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences as a Foreign Associate in May 2007, and he was elected Fellow of the American Agricultural Economics Association in 2006. Pingali was the President of the International Association of Agricultural Economists (IAAE) from 2003-06.

Pingali has over twenty five years of experience in assessing the extent and impact of technical change in agriculture in developing countries, including Asia, Africa and Latin America. From 1996-2002 he was Director of the Economics Program at CIMMYT, Mexico. Prior to joining CIMMYT, from 1987 to 1996, he worked as an Agricultural Economist at the International Rice Research Institute at Los Baños, Philippines. Prior to that, he worked from 1982-1987 as an economist at the World Bank’s Agriculture and Rural Development Department. He has been a visiting scholar at Stanford University’s Food Research Institute, and an Affiliate professor at the University of the Philippines at Los Baños.

Prabhu Pingali has authored nine books and over one hundred referred journal articles and book chapters on technological change, productivity growth and resource management issues in Asia, Africa and Latin America. He has received several international awards for his work, including two from the American Agricultural Economics Association: Quality of Research Discovery Award in 1988 and Outstanding Journal Article of the Year (Honorable Mention) in 1995.

An Indian national, he earned a Ph.D. in Economics from North Carolina State University in 1982.

Carl Pray

Dr. Pray is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Agricultural and Resource Economics Department, University of California, Berkeley. He is a Professor II in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics at Rutgers University. He is also an Adjunct Professor and Advisor of the Ph.D. Program of the Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy, Chinese Academy of Science.

The focus of his current research is agricultural science and technology policy in China, India, South Africa, and other developing countries. Key issues of his research are: How does government research investment, intellectual property rights, regulations, and advances in basic sciences influence private agricultural research and the adoption of new technology? What are the economic and institutional impacts of new agricultural biotechnology? In the recent past he has studied how patents and industry concentration have affected the biotech research in the U.S., how public policies could induce private companies to conduct research that would reduce hunger and poverty in developing countries, and the political economy of public sector research in developing countries. The results of this research have been published in Science, Nature, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Economic Development and Cultural Change, and elsewhere.

He received his B.A. in history at Carleton College in Minnesota and then worked as an agricultural extension agent in the Peace Corps in India. His PhD, in Economic History, is from the University of Pennsylvania.

"Economic and Health Impacts of GM Crops in China, India, and South Africa"

Debbie Reed

Debbie is the President and Director of DRD Associates in Washington, DC, providing strategic and policy support for national environmental, energy and agricultural groups on agricultural mitigation strategies for state and federal global climate change policies. She also is the Policy Director of the International Biochar Initiative, focused on the research, demonstration, and deployment of biochar production and utilization.

Debbie worked for President Bill Clinton at the White House Council on Environmental Quality as the Director of Legislative Affairs and Agricultural Policy for the Climate Change Task Force.

Prior to that, she was a Senior Legislative Assistant for U.S. Senator J. Robert Kerrey (D-NE), where she handled environmental, natural resource/agriculture, and energy issues. In previous positions at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and at several public health oriented institutions, Debbie's work focused on federal agricultural, food safety, and nutrition policy.

"Climate Change and Agriculture: Agriculture's Role in Cap-and-Trade"
"Biochar: A Carbon-Negative Technology to Combat Climate Change an Enhance Global Soil Resources"

Eric Sachs

Dr. Sachs was awarded degrees at Texas A&M University and the University of California, Davis. He has worked at Monsanto Company, St. Louis, for 30+ years and has played a key role in the development and application of agricultural biotechnology or GM crops. He currently is Lead, Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, and his group focuses on developing more sustainable approaches for pest and weed management, assessing the environmental and economic impacts of GM crops, and increasing understanding GM crop safety assessment and regulation.

His primary responsibilities include: broadly communicating principles of risk assessment and risk management of GM crops; enabling the development and application of harmonized GM crop regulations based on science and comparative risk; providing science-based information responsive to claims regarding biotechnology regulation, food and feed safety, environmental impacts, and socio-economic impacts; supporting and encouraging the development of independent, third-party studies that examine the safety and impacts of approved biotech crops; and providing stewardship oversight of responsible weed resistance management for herbicide tolerant biotech crops, and geographically appropriate, product focused, insect resistance management for insect-protected biotech crops.

As a leader and communicator within the private sector, he successfully uses his knowledge of science and biotechnology, experience, and passion to communicate the safety and benefits of GM crops, to demystify the science of biotechnology, and to build confidence among the public.

"Developing Drought Resistant Crops: Possibilities and Realities"

Suman Sahai

Suman Sahai organized the Gene Campaign in India in 1989. Gene Campaign is a non-governmental organization dedicated to protecting farmers’ rights and food and livelihood security. Gene Campaign has played a key role in formulating India’s Farmers’ Rights law and fostering genetic and trade literacy among farmers and the general public. It has also been at the forefront of generating awareness on issues relating to trade, intellectual property rights, genetic resources conservation and sustainable use, as well as genetic engineering and agriculture biotechnology.

Suman Sahai was appointed Knight of the Golden Ark (Netherlands) in 2001 for establishing Gene Campaign and for generating awareness about issues related to genetic resources and trade. In 2004 She was honored with the 2004 Borlaug Award for her outstanding contribution to agriculture and the environment.

Dr. Sahai, who has published extensively on science and policy issues related to food security, has been working both at the grassroots and policy levels, with great dedication and considerable impact. She is a member of several national policy forums on international trade, biodiversity and environment, biotechnology and bioethics, intellectual property rights and research and education. Dr Sahai chaired the Planning Commission Task Force on Biodiversity and Genetically Engineered Organisms, for the Eleventh Plan. She is a member of the National Biodiversity Board and serves on the Research Advisory Committees of national scientific institutions, the Expert Committee on Biotechnology Policy and the Bioethics Committee of the Indian Council of Medical Research.

Prior to founding Gene Campaign, she served as a faculty member at the University of Alberta in Canada, the University of Chicago and the University of Heidelberg in Germany.

Dr. Sahai received her Ph.D. in genetics from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute in New Delhi.

"Governance of Agbiotechnology in India"

Pedro Sanchez

Pedro A. Sanchez is the Director of the Tropical Agriculture and the Rural Environment Program, Senior Research Scholar and Director of the Millennium Villages Project at the Earth Institute at Columbia University. He also directs AfSIS, the African Soils Information Service, developing the digital soils map of the world.

Sanchez is also Professor Emeritus of Soil Science and Forestry at North Carolina State University and served as Director General of ICRAF-the World Agroforestry Center from 1991-2001. His professional career has been dedicated to help eliminate world hunger and absolute rural poverty while protecting and enhancing the tropical environment. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Society of Agronomy, the Soil Science Society of America and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He serves on the Board of Agriculture and Natural Resources of the National Academy of Sciences. Sanchez is the 2002 World Food Prize laureate and a 2004 MacArthur Fellow.

Sanchez received his BS, MS and PhD degrees in soil science from Cornell University, and honorary Doctor of Science degrees from the Catholic University of Leuven, Guelph University and Ohio State University.

"The African Green Revolution Moves Forward – Cut to the Chase"

Tim Searchinger

Timothy Searchinger is a Research Scholar with the Princeton Environmental Institute and the Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy (STEP) at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Searchinger’s expertise is on biofuels, agriculture, and climate change. Most recently, Searchinger served as Senior Fellow of the Georgetown Environmental Law and Policy Institute, Georgetown University Law Center.

Searchinger worked at the Environmental Defense Fund, where he co-founded the Center for Conservation Incentives and supervised work on agricultural incentive and wetland protection programs. As deputy General Counsel to Governor Robert P. Casey of Pennsylvania and a law clerk to Judge Edward R. Becker of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Searchinger proposed the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program to the USDA and worked closely with state officials to develop programs that have now restored one million acres of riparian buffers and wetlands to protect priority rivers and estuaries in Maryland, Minnesota, and Illinois, among other states.

Searchinger received a National Wetlands Protection Award from the Environmental Protection Agency in 1992 for a technical book about the functions of seasonal wetlands for which he was principal author. His most recent writings focus on the greenhouse gas emissions from biofuels and agricultural conservation strategies to clean-up nutrient runoff. He is currently writing a book about the interaction of agriculture and the environment.

In Spring 2008, Searchinger taught a Freshman Seminar, Food and the Planet, at Princeton. This upcoming Spring, he will teach a new ENV course, Feeding the Planet While Saving the Planet, which will focus on the challenges of addressing agriculture’s contribution to global warming.

Searchinger earned his B.A. from Amherst College and his J.D. from Yale Law School.

"Feeding a Hot and Hungry Planet"

Shanthu Shantharam

Dr. Shanthu Shantharam is the President of Biologistics International (, a biotech management and consulting company in the USA, and a Senior Research Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Institute of International Affairs and Public Policy’s Science, Technology, and Environment Program at Princeton University. Dr. Shantharam has over 25 years of experience as a scientist (molecular biologist and biotechnologist). He served as a Branch Chief of the USDA office of Biotechnology Regulatory Services in Washington DC for over 14 years, and worked as a visiting biotechnology advisor to the World Bank in the mid 1990s. He was a visiting research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington DC from 2001 to 2002. He was Head of Technology Communications for Syngenta International in Basel, Switzerland and was also Global Head of their Regulatory Compliance Unit. Some of his clients in the area of biotechnology and biosafety are US-AID, UN-FAO, UNIDO, UNEP-GEF, and ADB. He presently directs a program on biotechnology management courses at the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok. Dr. Shantharam is veteran biotechnology regulatory affairs expert, biosafety analyst, and a risk assessment specialist.

Dr. Shantharam obtained B.Sc (Hons) from Bangalore University (1972); M.Sc (Plant Physiology) from the MS University of Baroda (1974); and a Ph.D in Microbiology from the Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada (1980). He carried out post-doctoral research at Kansas State University, Iowa State University, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, and was an EMBO trainee at the University of Bielefeld, Germany. Dr. Shantharam received a Fulbright Fellowship 1994.

Howard-Yana Shapiro

Howard-Yana Shapiro is Global Director of Plant Science and External Research, Mars Incorporated.

Within Mars, Incorporated, Howard is responsible for the plant science of their primary agricultural products, investigation of potential new plant based solutions for use in their brands, review and oversight of our existing and future plant based research, co-chair of the Plant Science Pod of the Mars Sustainability Advisory Council, member of the Technical Committee, and leader of the sustainability/production models for agroecological, agroforestry and agroeconomics of multifunctional cacao systems globally.

In addition, he leads the Multi-Disciplinary Research Unit, an internal think tank collaboration between Mars, Incorporated, The University of California, Davis (UCD) and The University of Nottingham, England.

He is Adjunct Professor in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, The University of California, Davis. He has lectured in the Department of Plant Sciences and the Department of Nutrition at UC Davis for the past two years.

Currently he is serving as Co-Chairman for the Second World Congress of Agroforestry to be held in Nairobi in 2009.

During his long and diverse career in agriculture he has been involved with organizations as diverse as the National Sharecroppers Fund working as a Field Organizer in Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas; the AME/CME African- American colleges, junior colleges and agricultural highschools in the Deep South teaching fundamental agruiculture and working on the accreditation of the institutions; seed saving projects amongst the elderly African-American rural populations including the oral history of the seeds; and documenting agriculture in a series of Oaxacan, Mixtecan, Mixe villages for INAH in Mexico City.

He has twice been a university professor, twice a Fulbright Scholar, twice a Ford Foundation Fellow and winner of the prestigious National Endowment for the Humanities Award. He has worked with indigenous communities, non-governmental organisations, governmental agencies and private institutions throughout the world and many national and regional agricultural institutions as an advisor and policy maker including, but not limited to, ACDI-VOCA, Winrock International, Gates Foundation, AFD, World Bank, UNDP-GEF, United States Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Research Service, United States Agency for International Development, United States Forest Service, ICRAF (The World Agroforestry Centre), Conservation International, WWF, International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico, Brazil, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Haiti, Ghana, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Senegal, South Africa, Vietnam, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Bougainville, Thailand, Cambodia, China, the Philippines, and Australia.

Shapiro is the author of three books and he is currently co-authoring three books, Chocolate: History, Culture and Heritage (published date 16 February 2009); the Science of Theobroma cacao: Botany, Chemistry & Medicine (publication date spring 2010); and the Future of Agroforestry and Landuse Globally (publication date fall 2010).

Lee Silver

An internationally renowned molecular biologist and expert on biomedical ethics, legal issues, and the societal challenges posed by advances in biotechnology, Silver is the author of many publications, including Mouse Genetics: Concepts and Practice, and Remaking Eden: Cloning and Beyond in a Brave New World, which has been published in 14 languages since its initial publication in 1997. The primary focus of that book is the ethical concerns and legal issues that arise from the technological advances that were, until recently, found only in science fiction.

These issues form the basis for Silver’s new Woodrow Wilson School undergraduate course “Human Genetics, Reproduction, and Public Policy.” Silver is the coeditor of the official journal of the International Mammalian Genome Society. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was a member of the New Jersey Bioethics Commission Task Force, formed to recommend reproductive policy positions for the New Jersey State Legislature. He has testified on reproductive and genetic technologies before U.S. Congressional and New York State Senate committees. Ph.D. Harvard University.

Melinda Smale

Melinda Smale joined Oxfam America in 2008 as Researcher, Agriculture and Trade. From 2002, as a Senior Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), she led a global research program aimed at promoting the sustainable utilization of crop genetic resources in developing agriculture, initially as a joint program with Bioversity International in Rome, Italy.

Research addressed the impacts of biotech crops, agricultural biodiversity, local seed markets, and underutilized crops. From 1989 to 2000 in Malawi and later in Mexico, she analyzed the adoption and impacts of improved wheat and maize seed as an economist for the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).

During the 1980s, Melinda worked in Pakistan, Somalia, Mauritania and Niger on short-term assignments for CIMMYT, Chemonics International, Volunteers in Technical Assistance (VITA), and USAID.

Melinda earned her PhD in Agricultural Economics from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1992, her MSc. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1983, an M.A. in International Studies (Africa Area) at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in 1979, and a B.A. in History/French at Duke University in 1977.

She is an Honorary Fellow with Bioversity International, serving on the Advisory Committee of the Collaborative Crops Research Program of the McKnight Foundation, and on editorial committees of several journals.

"The Potential of Biotech Crops in Small-Scale Agriculture"

Henning Steinfeld

Henning Steinfeld is head of the livestock sector analysis and policy branch at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN in Rome, Italy. He has been working on agricultural and livestock policy for the last 15 years, in particular focusing on environmental issues, poverty and public health protection. Prior to that, he has worked in agricultural development project in different African countries.

Dr Steinfeld is an agricultural economist and graduated from the Technical University of Berlin, Germany (now Humboldt University).

David Tilman

David Tilman is Regents' Professor and McKnight Presidential Chair in Ecology at the University of Minnesota, and is Director of the University’s Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve. His research focuses on the causes, consequences and conservation of earth’s biodiversity, and on how managed and natural ecosystems can sustainably meet human needs for food, energy and ecosystem services. He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences, was the Founding Editor of the journal Ecological Issues and has served on editorial boards of nine scholarly journals, including Science. He serves on the Advisory Board for the Max Plank Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany. He has been a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and a Fellow of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis.

In 2008, David Tilman was awarded the International Prize for Biology from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. He has also received the Ecological Society of America’s Cooper Award as well as its MacArthur Award, the Botanical Society of America’s Centennial Award, the Princeton Environmental Prize and was named a J. S. Guggenheim Fellow. He has written two books, edited three books, and published more than 200 papers in the peer-reviewed literature, including more than 30 papers in Science, Nature and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. The Institute for Scientific Information designated him as the world’s most highly cited environmental scientist of the decade for 1990-2000 and for 1996-2006.

His multifaceted interests in biodiversity have given his research a broad focus, including
(1) The forces that have allowed numerous competing species to evolve, coexist and persist in natural and managed ecosystems,
(2) The ways that human actions threaten this biodiversity,
(3) The impacts of the loss of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning and on ecosystem services of benefit to society, and
(4) The benefits that the preservation and restoration of biodiversity can provide.

His current research explores ways to use biodiversity as a tool for biofuel production and climate stabilization through carbon sequestration. His work on biodiversity and stability of grassland ecosystems (published in Nature in 1994) challenged the established paradigm and led the discipline to re-examine how diversity affects the productivity, stability and nutrient efficiency of ecosystems. His biodiversity field experiments and related mathematical theory, reported in a series of papers in Science, Nature and other journals, are providing a more rigorous foundation for managing ecosystems to maximize the ecosystem services that can provide to society.

His work on sustainable agriculture and renewable energy has critically examined the full environmental, energetic and economic costs and benefits of grain crops, of current food-based biofuels and of biofuels made from diverse mixtures of prairie grasses and other native plants growing on already-degraded lands. He showed that restored native high-diversity grasslands could provide more energy per hectare than corn grain ethanol or soybean biodiesel, be far better for the environment through carbon sequestration, and prevent competition between food crops and biofuel crops for fertile land. Recent work has shown that biofuel production based on clearing and/or converting old growth forests could become a major global threat to biodiversity, have greater greenhouse gas impact than gasoline, and compromise global food supplies.

David Tilman has also dedicated much of his career to communicating with the public, politicians and the managers of earth’s ecosystems so that they might be better informed about environmental science and its relevance to society and to sustaining, for the long-term, the quality of human life on earth.

"Energy, Food and Climate in the 21st Century"