The 29th International Horticultural Congress | Sustaining Lives, Livelihoods and Landscapes | 17-22 August 2014
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Welcome to the 3rd International Genetically Modified Organisms in Horticulture Symposium – Past, Present and Future

The Symposium will be sponsored by OECD and ISHS Commission Molecular Biology and In Vitro Culture

A one-day Symposium “GMOs in horticulture – past, present and future” will provide a cross-disciplinary forum for policy makers, scientists and industry from around the world to consider policy issues relevant to the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in horticulture. See our unique Delux window boxes of flowers and Hanging Baskets at Blooming Baskets ireland. Currently, many governments offer passive resistance to acceptance of GMO foods because of the starkly contrasting attitudes by stakeholders and in the media. As a result, the Symposium will generate a Policy Paper that will be widely distributed internationally to influence policy makers to make informed decisions on this topic in the future.

Presentations will address the following questions:

  • Biosafety regulation systems – a straightjacket to progress or necessary caution?
  • Legislation and intellectual property – who gains, how mobile are genes?
  • Pest, disease and herbicide resistance – have we really enhanced sustainability?
  • GMOs in developing countries – have they delivered tangible results?
  • Science, consumers, agribusiness, environmentalists – consensus or anarchy?


Dr. Bart Panis’ research focuses on plant tissues culture with all its possible applications; cryopreservation, somatic embryogenesis, protoplast culture and transformation. In 1994, he co-developed the world’s first transgenic banana. Additionally, he co-ordinated many international projects dealing with plant cryopreservation and developed with Bioversity International the world banana cryobank. In 2013, he started working for Bioversity International.

Prof. Dr. Trine Hvoslef-Eide has studied tissue culture, storage of in vitro cultures, somatic embryogenesis, protein markers, genetic transformation, bioreactor cultures, ornamental plant breeding (begonia) and developmental studies on abscission using poinsettia as a model plant (inducible system). In 1993-94 she worked as an advisor on the Gene Technology Act with the Competent Authority on deliberate release of GMO in Norway, the Royal Ministry of Environment. Presently she is Professor and Head of the Imaging Centre in Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB).

Dr. Violeta Villegas is a senior scientist at the International Rice Research Institute in The Philippines. Violy has more than 10 years of regulatory experience in the responsible introduction of GM traits in Asia-Pacific for a private company, plus more than 20 years of research in various aspects of fruit breeding as a Research Professor at the University of the Philippines, Los Banos. She has had collaborative research projects with Australia, Israel and other ASEAN countries.

Plenary Speakers

Plenary speakers are listed on the Plenary Speaker page.

Keynote Speaker

Ms. Carpenter has been working on agricultural policy issues for the past seventeen years, particularly on issues related to genetically engineered crops, including socio-economic impacts, impacts on biodiversity, and US and international regulatory frameworks. She has published over 30 journal articles, book chapters and reports on genetically engineered crops, pest management and other agricultural issues. She has held positions with the US Agency for International Development, overseeing the agency's biosafety capacity building programs, and USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Biotechnology Regulatory Services, working primarily on international negotiations on the regulation of agricultural biotechnology. She currently works as a consultant based in Central Massachusetts.

John Knight is a Professor in Marketing at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. He teaches innovation and new product development and also branding. He has particular interest in factors affecting adoption of new technology. He has conducted research on country image and factors that enhance or damage it. He has investigated potential impact of genetic modification technology on perceptions of overseas distribution channel gatekeepers and also end consumers in regard to New Zealand's country image in overseas markets. His research findings have been published in a wide range of marketing journals, but also in Nature Biotechnology, Science Communication, and Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

Renate Müller is Professor of Floriculture and Translational Plant Science at Copenhagen University, Denmark. She combines a strong background from industries with a scientific focus on genetics, physiology and postharvest biology of ornamental plants. She holds a PhD in Horticultural Science and a DSc in Plant Science. Since 15 years, Renate Müller’s research explores genetic and physiological factors, which determine plant quality. Renate Müller’s research field covers topics within hormone signaling, flower physiology and reproduction biology, molecular breeding and genetic modification of ornamental plants. Her special expertise lies within genetic transformation and alternative biotechnological tools aiming in plant quality improvement. In translational science approaches she seeks to transfer basic science findings to valuable products and technologies. In the future, there will be a great demand for new plant varieties, as well as a need to develop new targeted methods and technologies within molecular plant breeding. Her research is strengthened by her international network and many of her cooperation projects involve industrial partners.

Dr Ford holds a PhD in Plant Biotechnology from The University of Melbourne and is currently a jointly appointed Associate Professor between The University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences and Griffith University’s School of Environment. Her research interests are focused on the development of novel tools to improve the sustainability and security of plant-derived food production systems through the mitigation of biotic and/or abiotic factors that impact yield and quality of broad acre crops, and the optimization of resource inputs used for their management. Specifically, her expertise is in applied molecular plant breeding with a focus on temperate legume and broad acre crop genomics, molecular pathology and applied breeding technologies. Throughout her career, she has forged collaborative partnership with national and international Agricultural industries and institutes to address key issues retarding productivity. She was a Federal International Agricultural Research investment strategy group member and is currently a Science Executive member of the Primary Industries Climate Change Centre.

Dr Peter Kearns is a Principal Administrator at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) where he has worked for 23 years. He is from the Environment, Health and Safety Division which addresses issues related to the safety of chemicals, nanotechnology, pesticides and biotechnology. Peter is head of OECD’s biosafety programme and is responsible for the OECD’s Working Group for the Harmonisation of Regulatory Oversight in Biotechnology and the Task Force for the Safety of Novel Foods and Feeds. The Working Group deals with issues related to the environmental safety of transgenic organisms; the Task Force covers issues relevant to food and feed safety. Both these groups comprise individuals nominated by the governments of the OECD member countries. During his time at the OECD, he has mainly focused on promoting international harmonisation in the regulation of biotechnology, nanotechnology, as well as other emerging and converging technologies. Peter has a BSc from the University of Nottingham and a PhD in Genetics from the University of Cambridge. Before OECD, he worked at the (then) UK Government Department of the Environment, where he was responsible for activities to regulate transgenic organisms.

Dr Craig Cormick is a social researcher and science communicator/educator. He has worked for the Innovation Department and CSIRO, and is widely published on drivers of attitudes towards new technologies. He has been conducting public attitude research into attitudes towards genetically modified organisms over 15 years, and has taken part in OECD and APEC working groups on methods of better engaging the public on contentious technologies. His awards include a joint Australian Best Practice Award from the International Association of Public Participation and a Queensland Premier’s Literary Award, and an Unsung Hero of Science Communication Award.

Associate Professor Neena Mitter, at Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, the University of Queensland is one of Queensland’s leading biotechnologists, having been involved in molecular biology and biotechnology in Australia and India for over 15 years. The plant and microbial biotechnology group led by her focuses on developing novel and innovative RNA silencing based biotechnological approaches towards management of pests and diseases. She has won the Women in Technology (WiT) University of Queensland Biotech Researcher award for her involvement in innovative projects such as the development of a Phytophthora resistant avocado rootstocks and nanoparticle based needle-free vaccine delivery. She is also the winner of Queensland International fellowship to work with Washington State University for developing novel approaches to virus diseases of crop plants. Her current focus on avocado is broad based from disease resistance to germplasm conservation to clonal propagation technologies.