Roger Beachy

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Dr Roger Beachy is is the Director of the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA), part of the United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.[1]

He was the founding president of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, which was established by Monsanto and academic partners, including Peter Raven's Missouri Botanical Garden. The Center was launched with a $70-million pledge from Monsanto, which also donated the Center's 40-acre tract of land, near Monsanto's home town of St. Louis, valued at $11.4 million. As of August 2010 he still runs a laboratory there.[2]

Beachy was a member of the Biology Department at Washington University in St. Louis from 1978-1991.[3]

In the Danforth Center's 2009 Annual Report Beachy is listed as a trustee (along with Peter Raven) and as a member of the scientific advisory board (along with Jonathan Jones and Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant).[4]

Activities

In September 2009 US President Barack Obama announced that he had appointed Beachy as the first director of a federal agriculture agency, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), part of the US Department of Agriculture. Beachy took up his post on October 5, 2009. According to a report in the St. Louis Business Journal:

The new agency will award competitive grants to fund research and technological innovations aimed at making agriculture more productive, environmentally sustainable and economically viable.[5]

The report adds:

On assuming his new role as NIFA director, Beachy will become vice chairman of the Danforth Center's board of trustees, a move that was originally scheduled to occur in July 2010.[6]

History

Beachy's work at Washington University, in collaboration with Monsanto, led to the development of the world's first genetically modified food crop, a variety of tomato that was modified for virus disease-resistance.

In 2003, in letters to the journals Science and Nature, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) complained that Beachy had published an editorial in Science and co-signed a letter in Nature Biotechnology without either journal disclosing that "Beachy's research on agricultural biotechnology has been funded by Monsanto and other biotech companies, even though the subjects of his submissions - the safety of genetically engineered crops and intellectual-property policies - are directly relevant to those companies."[7]

One of the co-signatories of Beachy's letter in Nature Biotechnology was Prof Chris Lamb. Beachy was co-chair with Lamb of the scientific advisory board of the Akkadix Corporation, a global agricultural biotechnology company co-founded by Lamb. Beachy is also on the Board of Directors of the industry-supported Nidus Center for Scientific Enterprise, and on the scientific advisory board of Spacehab, Inc.. He is also a consultant to the United Soybean Board.

Among numerous honours and awards, Beachy was the 1991 recipient of the Bank of Delaware's Commonwealth Award for Science and Industry and in 1999 he was named R&D Magazine's Scientist of the Year.

Notes

  1. Roger Beachy, Donald Danforth Center website, acc 27 Aug 2010
  2. Roger Beachy, Donald Danforth Center website, acc 27 Aug 2010
  3. Speaker biography: Roger Beachy, www.ibioseminars.org, acc 27 Aug 2010
  4. Donald Danforth Center 2009 Annual Report, p35
  5. Kelsey Volkmann, Beachy joining Obama administration, St. Louis Business Journal, September 24 2009, accessed 24 Sept 2009
  6. Kelsey Volkmann, Beachy joining Obama administration, St. Louis Business Journal, September 24 2009, accessed 24 Sept 2009
  7. Journal Editors Urged to Disclose Conflicts of Interest: Nature and Science Failing To Disclose Authors' Financial Ties, press release, CSPI, 21 Aug 2003, accessed 24 Sept 2009
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