May 11, 2005

Discussions about the safe, ethical and beneficial development of agricultural biotechnology will highlight a June conference co-hosted by the University of Kentucky and the University of Tennessee.

Scheduled in Nashville for June 27 – 29, 2005, the meeting is sponsored by the National Agricultural Biotechnology Council, a not-for-profit consortium of 37 leading agricultural research agencies and universities in North America.

“An excellent program of speakers will provide a range of opinion in several areas, including product development, regulatory considerations, bioremediation and plants as new sources of medicine,” said Nancy Cox, associate dean for research in the UK College of Agriculture and conference chair.

The conference will explore the theme “Agricultural Biotechnology: Beyond Food and Energy to Health and the Environment.” Agricultural producers and consumers as well as representatives from corporate, government and academic institutions and public-interest groups are expected to participate.

“A number of extraordinarily strong speakers will lend their expertise and opinions,” said Neal Stewart, one of the event’s coordinators and a UT professor of plant sciences.  Stewart holds the Racheff Chair of Excellence in Plant Molecular Genetics and recently authored the book Genetically Modified Planet.  “I am especially looking forward to hearing the latest reports on how biotechnology might be used to positively impact the environment,” he said.

NABC works to define issues and public policy options related to biotechnology associated with food, agriculture, and the environment and to promote increased understanding of the scientific, economic, legislative, and social issues associated with agricultural biotechnology.

Membership in the NABC is open to institutions that support agricultural biotechnology research and development.

“The University of Tennessee is pleased to be co-sponsoring this meeting,” said UT President John Petersen. “Groups and individuals across the world are questioning the impact of new products available because of biotechnology. They are demanding a role in the discussion of public research agendas, and this meeting provides a forum for open discussions,” Petersen said.

UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. also endorsed the conference.

“This conference will explore constraints and opportunities associated with commercialization of university technologies, and will particularly focus on the role of public policy related to regulatory and economic development issues,” Todd said.

The NABC provides a network for member institutions to work together on the complex issues that arise regionally and nationally. Previous NABC meetings have addressed such issues as sustainable agriculture; food safety and nutritional quality; gene discovery, access, and ownership; world food security; and industrial consolidation.

Additional details are at


Sources: Nancy Cox, 859-257-3333