Writer: Kathleen Phillips, (979) 845-2872,firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact: Dr. Gene Nelson, (979) 845-2116,email@example.com
AUSTIN — Developing a strategic plan that will make Texas a national leader in agricultural biotechnology and allied technologies will be the focus of a summit Sept. 29-30 at the Omni Southpark Hotel.
The Summit on Biotechnology for Agriculture, Food, Fiber, and Health is expected to attract scientists, investors, economic development specialists, policy makers, agricultural interests, food processors, consumers and natural resources leaders to develop an action plan to “capture the value of the bio-based economy that is being created through the applications of these technologies.”
“The future competitiveness of Texas agriculture and the high technology sector of the Texas economy is at stake,” said Dr. Gene Nelson, Texas A&M University agricultural economics department head and summit leader.
“The scope of the summit will include biotechnology and allied technologies related to food, fiber and health product development,” said Dr. John Mullet, director of the Crop Biotechnology Center at Texas A&M University and chair of the summit program planning committee.
Ralph Hardy of the National Agricultural Biotechnology Council will open the summit at 8:15 a.m. Sept. 29 with a keynote address “A Vision for Agriculture, Biotechnology and the Bio-Based Economy.” Biotechnology and the New Structure of Agriculture and Food Industries will follow at 9 a.m. as the topic for Roger Wyse of Burrill and Co. J. B. Penn of Sparks Commodities will talk about biotechnology as a driver of industry change and economic development at 9:45 a.m.
Several case studies will be presented to highlight what others are doing. They include: The Georgia Alliance, North Carolina Research Triangle, Danforth Foundation and Washington University Plant Science Center.
Featured speaker for the noon luncheon will be Texas Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs. Beginning at 1:30 p.m., participants will look at developing the elements of a plan for Texas in a panel including universities and the scientific community; start-up ventures and investors; government and economic development; agribusinesses, producers and food marketers; consumers and environmental interests.
From 3-5:30 p.m. Sept. 29 and from 8:15-10 a.m. Sept. 30, summit participants will divide into smaller work groups to formulate plans and ideas in various topics. The work groups will report recommendations at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 30.
The issues for discussion, organizers say, will include: the role of Texas universities in developing biotechnology and the diffusion of innovation to producers and consumers; managing the impact of biotechnology for maximum benefit and minimal risk for consumers and natural resources; coordination of the marketing chain for biotechnology derived products; new alliances and organizational structures needed; policies and institutions needed to facilitate the transfer of biotechnology from labs to commercial development; and, specific biotechnology applications and key technologies that should be emphasized in Texas.
The event is sponsored by the Texas Agricultural and Natural Resources Summit Initiative, an apolitical forum begun in 1993 for people concerned about Texas’ food, fiber, and natural resources, and founded on the principle that Texans can find workable solutions to any challenge.
Registration is $90 per person until Sept. 10, then $105 until Sept. 29. More information is available from the Texas Agricultural and Natural Resources Summit Initiative, Room 113 Administration Building, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843-2142, (979) 845-2340, fax (409) 845-9938, or e-mail Joe Benningfield,firstname.lastname@example.org.