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Vilsack tops list for speakers at Fargo, N.D., event

FARGO, N.D. -- U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will kick off an Agricultural Bioscience International Conference, held Sept. 18 to 21 at the Fargodome and the Holiday Inn in Fargo, N.D.

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FARGO, N.D. - U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will kick off an Agricultural Bioscience International Conference, held Sept. 18 to 21 at the Fargodome and the Holiday Inn in Fargo, N.D.

ABIC 2016 is billed as the “premier global meeting promoting innovation in agricultural bioscience,” and typically draws 500 to 1,000 attendees. North Dakota State University, the North Dakota Department of Agriculture and AdFarm of Fargo are local sponsors. Information for registration can be found at ABIC2016.com.

Guest speakers include North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple; Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and dignitaries from state and provincial agriculture departments from South Dakota, Minnesota, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

The conference organization is being held for the first time in the U.S., despite its 20-year history. The first event of its kind was held in 1996 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and the organization formally formed in 1998 in Saskatoon. Past conferences have been held in New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, Thailand, Germany and Ireland and have attracted more than 6,000 individuals from 68 countries and territories.

The agenda starts with all-day registration at Holiday Inn on Sept. 18. The trade show starts at 8 a.m. at the Fargodome on Sept. 19, with Vilsack speaking at 9:15 a.m.

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The event will include four educational tracts - plant science, animal health, innovation in agriculture, and food and health. The program includes top researchers from around the world - both in academia and in industry. Federal and state government dignitaries are involved.

Speakers will come from the United Kingdom, Brazil, Canada, across the U.S. and elsewhere, and events such as a student poster competition, an exhibition hall full of new technology exhibits will be available.

Among the keynote speakers:

  • Tom Vilsack: 9:15 a.m., Sept. 19 - Vilsack is credited with efforts to expand ag markets at home and abroad, led a comprehensive effort to improve the safety of the American food supply, and implemented changes to food safety standards to prevent illnesses by reducing the prevalence of E. coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter in meat and poultry. Vilsack is expected to speak on the U.S. outlook for science and research in agriculture.

  • Greg Page: 10:45 a.m. on Sept. 19 - Page will moderate panels on the role of science and research in the food supply. He held a number of positions at Cargill, Inc., including CEO from 2007 to 2015 and executive chairman of the board from 2013 to ’15. Over the years, Page held numerous positions in the U.S., Singapore and Thailand, including leadership roles with Financial Markets, the Red Meat Group and Cargill Investments (China) Co. Page has also served as a director or independent director for many organizations, including Eaton Corporation, Deere & Company, Black River Asset Management LLC, Carlson Inc. and Viskase Companies Inc. He is a graduate of the University of North Dakota and holds a degree in economics.

  • Patrick Moore: 1 p.m. Sept. 19 - Moore is an independent ecologist and environmentalist with Ecosense Environmental Inc., he has been a leader in the international environmental field for more than 40 years. A co-founder of Greenpeace, he is now a self-proclaimed Greenpeace dropout and sensible environmentalist with a vision for a sustainable future. In 2013,  Moore co-founded the Allow Golden Rice Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to seeing Golden Rice approved for commercial agriculture.

  • Kevin Folta: 8 a.m., Sept. 20 - Folta is professor and chairman of the horticultural sciences department at the University of Florida. He conducts research on plant genomics, studying how plants respond to light and the genetic basis of flavors. A science communicator with a wide following on social media, Folta actively participates in the public discussion of a variety of topics related to agricultural biotechnology, including new ways to make better food with less input.

  • Robert T. Fraley: 8 a.m., Sept. 21 - He has served as executive vice president and chief technology officer at Monsanto Company since 2000. He has served as a technical advisor to many government and public agencies and has written more than 100 publications and patent applications related to technical advances in agricultural biotechnology. He was named 2013 World Food Prize Laureate, is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and received the National Medal of Technology from President Clinton in 1999. Fraley will discuss the company’s encouraging projections for how agriculture can feed a world that is expected to reach 9 billion people in the year 2050.

For registration and agenda details, visit abic2016.com.

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