AVIGNON, France — Texas and French officials today discussed partnering in Texas A&M University’s Vegetable Improvement Center, where produce is bred to fight diseases.
The discussion occurred at a joint seminar between Texas A&M and France’s National Institute of Agricultural Research in Avignon. The seminar was initiated by Texas Agriculture Commissioner Rick Perry, who gave opening remarks.
“Agribusiness is the industry that provides the basics of life,” Perry said at the seminar. “The work you do here and the work done by Texas A&M University help make the quality of life better for people around the world.
“We believe partnerships and collaborative research between scientists working on similar projects can help everyone,” Perry said. “It brings the technology to the marketplace faster, making it more profitable for everyone.”
The Vegetable Improvement Center, headquartered in College Station, Texas, was created to focus on health and nutrition work in vegetables in partnership with other universities and private industry, according to Dr. Leonard Pike, VIC director and horticulture professor at Texas A&M.
“That is something that no one else has done to date,” Pike said. “We are working with several medical doctors, the heart and cancer researchers, and we have 37 private companies now working with us at some level in research, to improve vegetables for uniform high levels of naturally occurring compounds that help prevent cancer, heart disease and diabetes.”
The center supports and strengthens the state’s $1.2 billion vegetable industry through research. Its goal is to develop new technologies for producing quality vegetable products in an efficient, economic and environmentally sound system, with a focus on achieving health and nutrition benefits.
Pike said France’s vegetable industry is similar to that of Texas. At least four major U.S. vegetable seed companies have French connections, he said.
“This visit will help me see what their real needs are (for European consumers),” Pike said before the trip. “In cooperation with people in other countries, these crops will be improved worldwide and that improvement is for consumers worldwide.”
In addition to Pike, other seminar speakers from Texas A&M University’s department of horticultural sciences were: Dr. Dan Lineberger, professor; Dr. Jim Giovannoni, assistant professor; Dr. Luke Howard, assistant professor; and Dr. David Wolff, assistant professor.