John R. Porter becomes chairperson of the Independent Steering Committee for global wheat research

EL BATAN, Mexico (8 November 2017) – Professor Dr. John R. Porter, from the Agropolis/Montpellier Supagro/INRA/CIRAD conglomeration in Montpellier, France, has been elected as Chair of the Independent Steering Committee that advises the CGIAR Research Program on Wheat (known as WHEAT) on research strategy, priorities and program management. In this appointment, Porter succeeds Dr Tony Fischer, Honorary Research Fellow, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia.

An internationally recognized researcher and teacher in crop ecology and physiology, biological modelling, and agricultural ecology, Porter’s contributions have focused on climate change, agronomy, and ecosystem services.

“I am very proud and pleased to be elected as chair of the WHEAT Steering Committee. This CGIAR research program connects over 300 partners into a global alliance for climate-resilient and profitable wheat agri-food systems,” Porter said.

“Accounting for a fifth of the world’s food, wheat is the main source of protein in the developing world and is second only to rice as a source of calories for consumers there,” Porter explained. “The challenge for WHEAT is no less than to raise the crop’s productivity and keep wheat affordable for today’s 2.5 billion resource-poor consumers in 89 countries and for a world population that will surpass 9 billion around mid-century.”

Porter observed that this must be done while cutting greenhouse gas emissions and improving soil health, in wheat-based cropping systems. “As WHEAT moves into its 2nd Phase,” he said, “I would like the Independent Steering Committee to continue the work pioneered by my predecessor Tony Fischer and look at some new areas, such as human capacity development and innovation in wheat-based food production systems.”

Meeting wheat demand, protecting food and farming from worsening climate impacts
According to Porter, WHEAT is actively catalyzing the efforts of CGIAR and partner institution scientists, farmers, governments and private companies in lower and middle-income countries, to develop and share climate-smart innovations that increase farm resilience and productivity, while reducing the climate footprint.

Technology such as high-yielding wheat varieties that tolerate drought and high temperatures, as well as resisting new or modified strains of deadly crop diseases spawned in rapidly warming environments, are the outputs from WHEAT research that lead to positive outcomes for farmers and consumers.

Developing such technologies requires that WHEAT also invest in human capacity development.
“Varieties derived from WHEAT breeding lines are already sown on nearly half of the world’s wheat lands and which bring economic benefits of about $3.1 billion each year,” Porter said, citing a 2016 analysis of WHEAT impacts.

Resource-conserving cropping practices from WHEAT, such as more targeted use of nitrogen fertilizers or sowing wheat into untilled soils and crop residues, can raise wheat farmers’ incomes while curbing greenhouse gas emissions, if widely adopted, he added. “Zero tillage is already being used to sow wheat on 1.8 million hectares in South Asia’s extensive rice-wheat rotations, and state government officials in India are implementing policies to support more widespread adoption.”

Personal information
A member of the WHEAT Independent Steering Committee since 2014, Porter has published more than 140 papers in reviewed journals, won four international prizes for research and teaching, and served as president of the European Society for Agronomy and was Chief Editor of the European Journal of Agronomy for many years. He led the writing of the chapter on food production and security for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 5th Assessment. Porter was elected as both a Fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy for Agriculture and Forestry and the European Academy of Sciences in 2014 and was knighted by the French government via the Order of Agriculture Merit in March 2016. Porter is an emeritus professor at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark and the Natural Resources Institute at the University of Greenwich UK and an honorary professor at Lincoln University, New Zealand. He is a member of the Scientific Council of the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA) and currently consulting professor at Montpellier SupAgro, France on a project for Capacity Building in Crop Modelling financed by the Agropolis Foundation and Labex Agro.

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Dr. Hans Braun

Hans-Joachim BraunDirector, WHEAT CRP and CIMMYT Global Wheat Program, Mexico

Braun has served as the Director of CIMMYT’s Global Wheat Program since 2006, Braun has an M.S. from the University of Stuttgart-Hohenheim and a Ph.D. from the University of Hohenheim. His achievements include contributing to the development and release of 44 winter wheat varieties grown on nearly 1.5 million hectares in Central and West Asia, and he is the main author or co-author on more than 120 scientific articles, including 36 in refereed journals. In 2003 he received the Chinese Friendship Award for his contributions to wheat improvement in Gansu Province.

Dr. Paul Struik

Director General, Professor of Crop Physiology, Department of Plant Sciences, Wageningen University, The Netherlands

Professor Paul C. Struik is a Full Professor of Crop Physiology at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and head of this University’s Centre for Crop Systems Analysis. He obtained an M.Sc in Agronomy and a Ph.D in Agricultural Sciences from Wageningen University. His fields of expertise include: crop systems biology, photosynthesis, resource-use efficiency, seed systems, agrobiodiversity and the synergy between natural and social sciences.

Professor Struik is the author and co-author of many publications including most recently “Deconstructing and unpacking scientific controversies in intensification and sustainability: why the tensions in concepts and values?” in Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability” (2014) and “Increasing homogeneity in global food supplies and the implications for food security” (2014) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

He is on the editorial board of several international scientific journals including Editor in Chief of Potato Research (1990 – present); Editor of Annals of Applied Biology (2004 until present) and Academic editor of PLoS ONE (2014 until present). He is a member of the Council of the European Association for Potato Research and in 2014, he was recognized for the Outstanding Paper on Plant Genetic Resources from the Crop Science Society of America.

Ximena López

 Technical and Technological Transference Manager,Senior Technical Director, Granotec Group and Director IFAN (Functional Ingredients and Natural Additives) Technological Consortium Project ,Chile

López graduated with a food industry engineering degree from University of Santiago, Chile, and obtained her Master of Science at Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain. López worked as a consultant for the Pan-American Health Organization and served as the national representative for the International Cereal Chemists. López has a variety of experiences, in Quality Control and Flour Treatment and Quality Assurance Systems, specialized in cereal fortification in the American Institute of Bread (AIB.)

López is the author of over 20 scientific publications and 100 journal articles. Currently, her research is focused on biotechnology and the development of functional food based cereals.

 

Professor Dr. John R. Porter

JRPDepartment of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Sciences, The University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Porter is an internationally known scientist in crop ecology and physiology, biological modelling and agricultural ecology. Main contribution has been multi-disciplinary work in the response of arable crops, energy crops and complex agro-ecosystems to their environment with an emphasis on climate change, agronomy and ecosystem services.Porter has published more than 130 papers in reviewed journals and has won three international prizes for his research and teaching and is a former past-president of the European Society for Agronomy. Recently he has led the writing of the critically important chapter for the IPCC 5th Assessment in Working Group 2 on food production systems and food security. He has recently expanded his interest into food systems and food security and was elected Fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy for Agriculture and Forestry in 2014.

Aly Abou Sabaa

Director General, International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA), Lebanon

An Egyptian national and civil engineer by training with a focus on strategic leadership in the fields of sustainable development, operational and policy-based lending, as well as project and portfolio management. At AfDB, Aly Abou Sabaa provided leadership in the preparation and execution of the Bank’s main strategies which had huge impact on the lives of millions of people in Africa. He led the resource mobilization and the management of a US $11 billion portfolio in the areas of agriculture, water, natural resources management, climate change, green development, governance, women and youth, as well as human and infrastructural development. His experience spans more than 35 countries in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and the United States of America.

Dr. Neal Gutterson

Neal GuttersonVice President of Agricultural Biotechnology, DuPont Pioneer, USA

Dr. Gutterson has been involved in plant biotechnology for nearly 30 years as an inventor with a scientific background in molecular biology, biochemistry and genomics. He is Vice President of Agricultural Biotechnology at DuPont Pioneer. Previously, Gutterson was Chief Executive Officer of Mendel from 2007 to 2014, following roles at Mendel as Vice President for Research & Development, President and Chief Operating Officer. Gutterson is section secretary of the food and agriculture governing board of the Biotechnology Industry Organization and a member of the GrassRoots Biotechnology board of directors. Gutterson joined the CIMMYT Board of Trustees in September 2011, he is the chair of the Program Committee and a member of the Executive and Nomination committees. Gutterson holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley; a B.S. in chemistry from Yale University; and attended an executive education program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He is a named inventor on more than three dozen patents and pending patent applications.

Professor Dr. Martin Kropff

MKropff-lr-jpg-croppedChair, W-SC; Director General, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Mexico

Martin Kropff serves as the Director General of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) since June 2015. Before joining CIMMYT, Kropff was Rector Magnificus and Vice Chairman of the Executive Board of Wageningen University and Research Center (Wageningen UR) in the Netherlands. He obtained his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in biology at Utrecht University and a Ph.D. in agricultural and environmental sciences at Wageningen University. In 1984, he was appointed assistant professor at Wageningen University. From 1990 to 1995, Kropff was the systems agronomist at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines, where he led an interdisciplinary program on the introduction of systems analysis and simulation in rice production research. Upon his return to the Netherlands in 1995, he served successively as Full Professor of Crop and Weed Ecology, Scientific Director of the University’s C.T. de Wit Graduate School for Production Ecology and Resource Conservation and Director General of the Plant Sciences Group. In 2005 he joined the Executive Board of Wageningen UR. Kropff played a key role in raising Wageningen UR’s profile worldwide. In 2013, he joined the CGIAR Consortium Board, where he worked to improve cohesion and develop a new CGIAR strategy.

 

Dr. Tony Fischer

Dr. Tony Fischer

Honorary Research Fellow, The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia

As a scientist at both CSIRO and CIMMYT, Tony Fischer worked on wheat agronomy, crop physiology and genetic improvement, and published over 100 papers. He was Director of the CIMMYT Wheat Program from 1988-1995. From 1995-2005, Fischer served as Research Program Manager at ACIAR, and worked to extend their activities into places like Myanmar, Bhutan, Tibet, DPRK and Afghanistan. Fischer is currently ACT Coordinator for the Crawford Fund and a Member of the Order of Australia.

 

Ron DePauw

Science Adviser, Advancing Wheat Technologies, Sascatchewan, Canada

Ron DePauw is an internationally recognized scientist, who was born in rural Saskatchewan and raised on a farm near Treherne, Manitoba. Ron has devoted his life to reduce business risk for producers, to meet consumers’ requests for safe and nutritious food, to improve end-use suitability factors, and to contribute to an overall betterment of society and farm economy.

Wheat is the most widely grown crop in Canada, and generates $4 to $5 billion of direct farm receipts and additional $7 to $8 billion in value added processing. Ron actively participated in the registration of 65 wheat and six triticale cultivars. For the past 14 years, 40% to 55% of all of the wheat grown in Canada derived from cultivars that he and the team he led developed. Cultivars developed by Ron and his team exemplify the use of environmentally friendly and low input-cost genetic resistance to control a multitude of diseases and insects.

Ron has published 228 peer reviewed manuscripts, 10 book chapters with another “in press”, and close to 1000 miscellaneous publications including conference abstracts. He has received numerous awards including the Order of Canada, Saskatchewan Order of Merit, Gold Medal from Professional Institute of Canada which has only been awarded 40 times to someone in the field of science, and an Honorary Doctor of Science from the University of Saskatchewan.