Jerry Pommer: Livestock Biotech Conference Preview

BIOtech Now visited with Jerry Pommer, Director of Animal Regulatory Compliance and Quality Assurance for Hematech, Inc. in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Jerry is a member of the program steering committee for BIO’s first-ever Livestock Biotech Summit, which  will provide participants with three days of cross-cutting discussions among industry, academic and government leaders on the care and use of animals in research and the many possibilities in the realm of GE animal research, regulation, and funding within the biotechnology industry. Jerry discusses the unique draw and expectations for the conference, in addition to the GE animals that will be spotlighted – including:

  • Pigs that have been genetically engineered to produce human compatible donor tissues, cells and organs;
  • Cattle that have been genetically engineered to produce human antibodies that can help prevent and/or treat a wide variety of human health conditions and diseases;
  • Cattle that have been genetically engineered to be “prion-free” and therefore resistant to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or “mad cow disease”); and
  • Goats that have been genetically engineered to produce a spider silk fiber in its milk.  With its strength and elasticity, the spider silk has a variety of applications such as providing artificial ligaments and tendons, eye sutures, and for jaw repair. The silk could also have industrial applications in bulletproof vests and improved automobile airbags.

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The Livestock Biotech Summit is Coming!

Don’t miss your chance to get the special early-bird registration rate for the 2010 Livestock Biotech SummitRegistration is now open, and our early-bird discounts will expire on Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 11:59 pm Eastern Daylight Time.

 The first-ever Summit of its kind, scheduled for September 28-30, in Sioux Falls, S.D., will provide participants three days of cross-cutting discussions among industry, academic and government leaders.

Program highlights include:

-A unique workshop tailored specifically to the care of agricultural animals in research as well as an interactive presentation on the newly revised Ag Guide.

– Lively sessions focused on genetically engineered animals and around such topics as real life case studies of products weaving their way through the regulatory process, food and biomedical applications, and funding opportunities for animal biotechnology research.

– W.R. Gomes, Ph.D., Vice President Emeritus of the University of California, will speak on developing global solutions through animal biotechnology.  Gomes recently retired from the University of California, where he served as Vice President of Agriculture and Natural Resources for the university-wide system, Director of the California Agricultural Experiment Station, and Director of California Cooperative Extension. 

Bruce Knight, Principal and Founder of Strategic Conservation Solutions, will give an overview of animal agriculture focusing on the increasing importance of animal care.  Formerly the Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs at USDA and Chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, Knight is a nationally recognized expert on conservation, agriculture, and the environment.  He is currently a consultant focused on conservation and environmental issues related to agriculture.

– Dr. John McGlone of Texas Tech University will be coordinating the workshop on the care and use of livestock in biomedical and agricultural research.  Dr. McGlone speaks globally on topics of animal welfare, sustainable animal production, animal behavior, stress physiology and humane animal care.

– Panels of experts speaking on the “Case Study on the First Success Story on the U.S. Road to Regulatory Approval”, the “BIO GE Stewardship Program”, “New Products in the Pipeline”, “Funding Research on GE Animals”, and “Challenges for the Future”. 

BIO’s first-ever Livestock Biotech Summit is co-sponsored by: AAALAC International; Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Animal Care – USDA; Exemplar Genetics, Hematech, Inc.; Sigma-Aldrich; South Dakota Biotech Association; South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development; South Dakota State University; Trans Ova Genetics; University of Illinois; and ViaGen, Inc. 

For more information on the Livestock Biotech Summit – including updated program information and registration instructions – go to www.bio.org/livestockbiotechsummit, or contact David Edwards, BIO’s Director of Animal Biotechnology, at dedwards@bio.org.

Adoptions of Genetically Engineered Corn, Soybeans, and Cotton by Farmers Are Up

Yesterday the USDA released a report stating that the adoptions of genetically engineered corn, soybeans, and cotton by farmers are up from this time last year. This just goes to show that when a farmer experiences the advantages that occur with GE seeds, they’ll use them again. The most commonly adopted traits so far are herbicide-tolerance and insect-resistance.

The 14 million farmers worldwide using GE crops are mostly adopting them because of the economic advantages they provide. Not only is the yield per acre increased, but less time and money have to go into tilling, applying insecticides, watering, and weeding. All of these benefits don’t just equal cost savings for the farmer, they also equal a healthier, more environmentally-friendly product for the consumer.

The next generation of biotech crops, engineered for traits like drought-resistance, flood-tolerance, and increased efficiency in absorbing nutrients, promise to continue in this direction. Farmers increase their profits, lower their environmental footprint, and can feed more people. And that makes a better world for everybody.

Senator Suggests Biotech to Help Combat Hunger, Climate Change

Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) made a science-based plea this week for the international community to embrace agricultural biotechnology as one weapon in the warn against world hunger and climate change. 

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, of which Senator Lugar is ranking member, held a hearing on January 28th where strategies for addressing global climate change were discussed.  The hearing’s key witness was Former Vice President and climate change expert Al Gore.  Gore’s testimony focused on our “dangerous over-reliance on carbon-based fuels.”

But in his opening statement, Lugar said “the United States should recognize that steps to address climate change involve economic opportunities, not just constraints.”  Opportunities such as these exist in the dynamic science of agricultural biotechnology.

Lugar said:  “Genetically modified (GM) crops have the potential to improve agriculture production in the poorest regions of the world and help poor farmers contend with increased drought, new pests, and other consequences of a changing climate. Yet many developing countries, especially in Africa, worry that if they adopt GM crops, they will not be able to export to markets in Europe. They also are deeply influenced by the direct advocacy of European government agencies and NGOs that are hostile to biotechnology.  The ironic result has been that African nations have developed stifling, European-inspired regulations on GM technology, even as they continue to struggle to ensure adequate food supplies and they rightly worry about the coming impact of climate change on their agricultural productivity.

“Opposition to safe GM technology contributes to hunger in Africa in the short run and virtually ensures that these poor countries will lack the tools in the long run to adapt their agriculture to changing climatic conditions that could create chaos. As a wealthy continent with a relatively secure food supply, Europe has the luxury to reject the benefits of GM technology without fear that its domestic populations will suffer intensifying hunger. But most African countries have no such luxury…We must not allow an aversion to modern agricultural technology to doom a part of the world’s population to chronic hunger and poverty.”