IAPB President Letter

International Association for Plant Biotechnology (IAPB)

Roger N. Beachy
Email: [email protected]

Published online:  9 May 2007

To: Members of the SIVB and IAPB:

During the Beijing meeting of the International Association for Plant Tissue Culture and Biotechnology, the name of our association was changed to the International Association for Plant Biotechnology (IAPB). The change was originally suggested by previous presidents and advisory boards based in large part on the changing nature of the research in which we are engaged and the goals we have accepted. At the same meeting, I was honored by selection as the President of the IAPB through 2010. I am proud to hold this title and will do my very best to advance the IAPB and its goals.

In past decades, the use of plant cell and tissue culture was a means to an end; for example, as a method to produce disease-free plant materials or to produce plant-based chemicals. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, many of our membership embraced the modern tools of genetics and genetic engineering, along with plant cell culture, to develop plants and cell cultures that are genetically different from parental materials. This vastly expanded the science of plant genetic engineering and biotechnology. Thus, while plant cell and tissue culture was itself a strong component of biotechnology, the applications of genetic transformation vastly expanded the repertoire of capabilities of the researcher and led to far greater capabilities than tissue culture alone. As a consequence, the work done in academic and private sector laboratories has led to novel scientific discoveries and materials that are the starting point, or the end products, of plant and agricultural biotechnology. The outcomes have been successful and are transforming agriculture. It is anticipated that discoveries made by plant scientists will lead to expanded uses of plants as sources of renewable materials.

However, scientific advances in our field have outpaced the understanding of the public, including the policymakers. As a consequence, the potential of our work to benefit humankind may not be reached. It is, therefore, imperative that those that make discoveries and practice the science of plant and agricultural biotechnology engage in dialogue and discussion with non-specialists, including policy makers, to address both the real and potential concerns they have about the research per se, as well as products that we develop.

In 2010, the IAPB will meet in St. Louis, MO—near the heart of the US agriculture industry. It was in St. Louis that many of the early discoveries of plant biotechnology were made. It is also a region that contains outstanding research institutions, private companies, and growers groups that develop and/or employ the products of agriculture. We, the newly comprised leadership of the IAPB, hope that you will join us in St. Louis in the summer of 2010 for an exciting meeting of plant science and biotechnology.

Roger N. Beachy, Ph.D.
President, 2006–2010