How close are we to establishing a native rice industry in Australia?

Professor Robert Henry | Director, Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI)​

Professor Robert Henry is Chair of the TropAg international conference, the world’s premier tropical and subtropical agricultural and food science conference – which this year has brought over 800 people from 43 countries to Brisbane. He is also a world-leading geneticist whose current research interests include discovery and preservation of genetic diversity in wild plants. One of those plants is rice – specifically, the wild rice in Northern Australia.

Hear about how livestock has a key role to play globally to help end malnutrition

Dr Alfred de Vries is the senior program officer for animal production, at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Bill Gates has said that malnutrition is the greatest health inequity in the world.

How is technology impacting the agricultural sector?

Derrick Thompson is Senior Manager & Business Development with Hitachi Australia and a keynote speaker at TropAg 2019, presenting on the topic of how livestock producers can turn data into dollars.

Derrick says consumers, particularly in overseas markets, are demanding to know more about the development and welfare of animal, and that its provenance can be verified.

What are the genetic technologies that will help us achieve this?

Distinguished Professor Pamela Ronald is the Founding Director of the Institute for Food and Agricultural Literacy at the University of California, Davis.

Bill Gates called Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics and the Future of Food – the book she co-authored with her husband Raoul Adamchak – “a fantastic piece of work” and “important for anyone that wants to learn about the science of seeds and challenges faced by farmers”.

Professor Ronald is speaking here at TropAg 2019 on genetic approaches to generate the next generation of crops that will help farmers thrive in challenging conditions.

Do we eat too much or too less meat in the world?

 Dr Lawrence Haddad is the Executive Director at the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN).

Dr Haddad believes people eat too much animal sourced food: too much for their health and too much for the planet’s environmental health. But, from a global perspective, he says many people also eat too little animal sourced food.

Synthetic biology: redesigning organisms for useful purposes by engineering them to have new abilities

Associate Professor Claudia Vickers is Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform Leader at CSIRO and heads a research group at The University of Queensland.

Claudia is presenting here at TropAg 2019 in the AgFutures theme, which is supported by the Queensland Department of Agriculture, on how synthetic biology will transform the Australian biotechnology industry.

So how can gene editing help improve the kiwi fruit?

CRISPR kiwifruit – new opportunities for cultivation, breeding and research

Dr Erika Varkonyi-Gasic is a scientist at Plant and Food Research in New Zealand. She is speaking at TropAg 2019 on gene edited Kiwi fruit.

Can feeding cattle different foods help them cope better with heat stress?

Gene Wijfells is a Principal Research Scientist at CSIRO, where she is leads a project on heat stress and inflammation in cattle.

Gene is also on TropAg 2019’s Scientific Committee and presenting on the subject of nutrition strategies to manage high environmental temperatures in cattle.

What is provenance and how does it apply to Australian meat?

Dr Heather Smyth is Deputy Director of the ARC Training Centre for Uniquely Australian Foods.

Heather is a flavour chemist and sensory scientist at the University of Queensland, who has been working with premium food and beverage products for more than 15 years. With a background in wine flavour chemistry, her expertise is in understanding consumer enjoyment of foods and beverages in terms of both sensory properties and composition. She is presenting at TropAg 2019 on Provenance - the Australian flavour story for meat.

Why is it important preserve these wild species of sorghum, pigeonpea and other crops?

Dr Sally Norton is talking at the Wild Crop Relatives symposia at TropAg 2019 about the challenges of collecting and preserving crop wild relatives.

The Australian Grains Genebank at Horsham is now home to the only specimen of Sorghum grande seed known to be in any seed collection worldwide.

It is one of the specimens collected by Agriculture Victoria researcher Dr Sally Norton on a recent week-long seed collecting mission in the remote Katherine and Kakadu National Park areas of the Northern Territory. This trip resulted in 21 new populations of wild sorghum, rice, mungbean and pigeonpea joining the seed collection housed at Horsham.

We hear about a plant germplasm of avocado as well as wild plants in liquid nitrogen to ensure a long-term conservation for threatened and rare species

Raquel Folgado, cryopreservation researcher, The Huntington Botanical Gardens in the United States.

Raquel’s work looks at preserving plant germplasm of avocado as well as wild plants in liquid nitrogen to ensure a long-term conservation for threatened and rare species. You may be familiar with this type of technology from when people have their bodies frozen after death, hoping for a future resurrection.

 Raquel’s talk at TropAg 2019 is on the use of cryobiotechnology to conserve plant genetic resources.

We learn about food tampering – and what we can learn from the recent needles in strawberries incidents

Clare Hamilton-Bate is General Manager of Industry Development at Freshcare.

Freshcare is is the Australian fresh produce industry’s own on-farm assurance program, widely accepted as a practical, industry focused, food safety program.

Clare is talking at TropAg 2019 on the topic of Food tampering – and what we can learn from the recent needles in strawberries incidents.

Climate change impacts, adaptation and mitigation for tropical agriculture

Director of the Climate Change Institute, Australian National University

Professor Mark Howden is a Director of the Climate Change Institute at the Australian National University. He has been a major contributor to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) since 1991, with roles in the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth and now Sixth Assessment Reports, sharing the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with other IPCC participants and Al Gore.

Professor Howden is an expert on how climate variability and climate change will impact on food production and food security and how to adapt to those impacts. He has also developed the national and international greenhouse gas inventories for the agricultural sector and assessed sustainable methods of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.

Hear about research into crop science including; sorghum genetic improvement and heat tolerant wheat

Professor Ian Godwin, Centre Director - Crop Science at the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI)​

Professor Ian Godwin has over 30 years' experience in plant biotechnology research, first undertaking sugar beet genetic engineering at Birmingham University in the UK in the 1980s. He joined UQ in 1990, holding an academic position in plant molecular genetics. In 2019 he joined QAAFI as Director of the Centre for Crop Science.

He leads research in the use of biotechnological tools for crop improvement, with emphasis on the sustainable production of grain crops. Major focus is on the improvement of crops for food, feed and bio-industrial end-uses. He has pioneered the use of GM and gene edited techniques in sorghum. 

His popular science book Good Enough to Eat?: Next Generation GM Crops was published by the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2019.