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Thank You WORLD!

Looking back, we can all agree that it was a fantastic conference in Portland, full of exciting talks, eye-catching posters, motivated scientists, stimulating workshops, committee meetings, etc.

So foremost, Thank You to the organizers, to all who came out to Portland, a special Thank You to the iConnect Team, and of course to the sponsors, for making this meeting possible.

Unfortunately, we are left with some mind boggling stats. For example, there is the fact that the human population is increasing exponentially, whereas the food we produce grows merely arithmetically.

And so as the conference progressed, a defining question was posed: How can we achieve a reliable, sustainable, equitably-produced supply of nutritious food for a growing and increasingly urbanized world population within the context of climate change?

We are now most certainly aware that a sustainable agricultural intensification will be inevitable because maintaining current per capita food consumption with no increase in yield and no decrease in post-harvest and food waste will require almost doubling of the world’s cropland area within 40 years. This is not a viable approach to food security.

The present technologies in research are no doubt improving rapidly. We can all agree on that, but while, for example, next generation sequencing-based approaches are helping to improve the efficiency of breeding crops adapted to specific environments, we simultaneously need to provide farmers with information about the newest cultivars, technologies, etc.

As a result, immerging translational research and reduction in losses due to pests, pathogens, and environmental stresses could, and likely will, be equivalent to creating more land and more water! And that is purely thanks to the plant research being carried out globally.

The critically important basic discoveries being made in plant epigenetics, immunity, pathogen genomics, plant-environment interactions, structural biology, and metabolic engineering; discoveries will remain a driving force in agricultural innovation.

Ultimately, the continued translation of basic research into tangible agricultural and crop improvements will rely not only on the research itself but also on communicating the vital role that agriculture and plant genetics plays in all of our lives.

We were exposed to the social, economic, biological, environmental, and ethical aspects of food production.

We have been taking notes, growing our To Do lists. So if at least of few of those aims are realized before the next meeting, we will be in great shape.

Such a stance along with the growing population of plant scientists should no doubt translate into beneficial yields. I feel it’s time to move on beyond the GM debate, beyond the natural/unnatural argument, beyond the dualism of good versus bad and move toward adopting a continuum perspective that will allow for useful policies to be implemented.

I will be looking forward to seeing everyone in Minneapolis.

And for Goodbye a reminder

Ode to a Cluster of Violets
Pablo Neruda

Crisp cluster
plunged in shadow.
Drops of violet water
and raw sunlight
floated up with your scent.
A fresh
subterranean beauty
climbed up from your buds
thrilling my eyes and my life…

Read on

For more information and inspiration about worldwide impacts of plant biology, see the Decadal Vision report and related blog posts.

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