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Agbiotech Experts Weigh Sector’s Future

To most experts, it's becoming increasingly obvious that the tools of biotech must continue to be put to work in new ways if the world is to avoid future famine.

One of them, Gwyn Riddick, MBA, vice president of agricultural biotechnology for the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, will moderate a panel discussion at a global forum in June on the future possibilities of agbiotech.

The June 28 discussion, “Looking Beyond Row Crops: What's Next for Agricultural Biotechnology?” brings together industry specialists with insights into the numerous ways the tools of biotech are likely to be implemented to feed, fuel and heal the fast-growing world population.

Experts included from the Carolinas and Virginia

Besides Riddick, panelists include North Carolinians Preston Linn, vice president for alliances with Advanced Animal Diagnostics, of Durham, and Susan MacIsaac, Ph.d., site lead for Monsanto at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis.

Others are Shawn Semones, Ph.D., senior R&D group leader for Novozymes Biologicals, of Salem, Va., and Michael Cunningham, director of product development for Arborgen, a South Carolina forest products company.

It’s part of the 2011 BIO International Convention, a global gathering of people involved in the biotech industry, coming June 27-30 in Washington, D.C.

World needs biotech crops to avoid starvation

Biotech crops have been used widely by farmers since their introduction in 1996 because of their ability to reduce costs, reduce the use of pesticides and reduce soil erosion.

With an impending global water crisis and the projected need to feed nine billion people by 2050, 10 billion by 2100 and even more beyond that, new agbiotech products will have to be created to deal with climate change, limitations on arable land and other pressures, to avoid mass starvation.

New agbiotech products are likely to include diagnostics, foods enhanced for health benefits, plants used as “medicine factories” and new things from waters and forests.

Dozens of North Carolina life science companies and support organizations, including numerous cutting-edge agbiotech firms, are united in sponsoring a major pavilion, organized by the Biotech Center, at the huge BIO convention. It provides them an opportunity to make important business connections and display their products and capabilities to more than 15,000 peers from more than 60 countries in the biotech world.