Keynote Speakers


Dr. Raj Patel
Research Professor
Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin
Bio: Dr. Patel is one of the world’s foremost scholars studying the global food system and alternatives to it. His 2008 book Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World System is one of the most influential accounts of global agricultural issues published in the last ten years. In addition to his significant contributions to both academic and activist writing on global agricultural issues, Dr. Patel has made significant contributions to food rights policy, including offering testimony on the global food crisis before the House Financial Services Committee in the USA and serving on the advisory board of Corporate Accountability International’s Value the Meal campaign. He earned his Ph.D. from Cornell University.

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Dr. Jennifer Thomson
Emeritus Professor, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology
University of Cape Town
Bio: Trained originally as a microbiologist, Dr. Thomson’s career now focuses on the development of transgenic maize tolerant to drought and resistant to the African endemic maize streak virus. More recently, she has emerged as one of the world’s pre-eminent experts on this topic. Her monographs Genes for Africa: Genetically Modified Crops in the Developing World (2002), Seeds for the Future: The Impact of Genetically Modified Crops on the Environment (2006) and Food for Africa: the life and work of a scientist in GM crops (2013) are among the most-cited texts by proponents of using GM crops to alleviate poverty and hunger. Dr. Thomson has become increasingly prominent in policy work in this realm: She helped draft South Africa’s National Biotechnology Strategy and was appointed by the Minister of Science and Technology to the National Advisory Council on Innovation. She currently serves as the Vice-Chair of International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) and the Emeritus Chair of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF).