AgBioFEWS Fellows Asa Budnick, Nick Loschin, Joseph Opoku Gakpo and Modesta Abugu will share their observations on and interrogate practices at the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in Montreal, Canada that eventually lead to global decisions on the governance of biotech crops.
The United Nations’ Biodiversity Conference is a once every 2 years conference led by the Secretariat of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) that gathers stakeholders from all over the world to set out global plans on how to protect biodiversity. The December 2022 conference laid out a new set of nature protecting goals to be implemented from now till 2030, dubbed the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. The conference held from the 7th to 19th December 2022 served as the Fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CP-MOP 10), and the Fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (NP-MOP 4). We will present learnings from our participation in various plenary and working group sessions which deliberated on biotechnology regulations, risk assessment, detection and regulation of living/genetically modified organisms, agroecology, digital sequence information (DSI), among others. We will also speak about our one-on-one meetings and side events with various delegates and groups, and inform on the role of academia and research organizations in influencing policy decisions at the CBD – COP. And then respond to the question: Has the UN Biodiversity Convention been a force for ‘good’ or ‘evil’ in how biotech crops are regulated globally? Finally, we will provide overall recommendations on how these deliberations could be improved if it should continue serving as the platform for decision making on biotech crop regulations globally.
Modesta Nnedinso Abugu (@modestannedi) is a PhD student in the sweetpotato breeding and genetics program, under the supervision of Dr. Craig Yencho and Dr. Massimo Iorizzo. Her research seeks to understand the genetic mechanism of interaction of various sweetpotato flavor compounds. She is passionate about communicating science to the public, especially on the potentials of agricultural biotechnology tools in promoting food security, and also interested international regulation of biotech crops. She obtained her masters degree in Horticultural Science from the University of Florida, and BS in Biochemistry from the University of Nigeria Nsukka.
Joseph Opoku Gakpo (@josephopoku1990) is a PhD student in Agricultural and Extension Education at the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences, NC State University. His research interests include: communicating controversial sciences like GMOs, vaccinations, and climate; factors that influence success in agricultural education; and how communication is shaping global philanthropic efforts to reduce poverty. He holds a Bsc in Agricultural Biotechnology from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana, an MA in Communication Studies from the University of Ghana, and a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from NC State. He is a journalist by profession and is the 2018 International Federation of Agricultural Journalists’ Best Video Journalist Star Prize Award winner. He was also a 2016 Global Leadership Fellow with Cornell University’s Alliance for Science Program.
Nick Loschin is a PhD student in the Applied Ecology Department, working in the Interdisciplinary Risk Sciences team under Dr. Khara Grieger. He decided to join the PhD program at NC State because he is interested in better understanding the interdisciplinary intersections between risk assessment, sustainability, and community engagement within the context of new food and agriculture technologies. Over the past few years, he has been working at US EPA as an ORISE Research Fellow where he has centered his work within social and natural sciences in order to make science more accessible to diverse groups. More specifically, his team is situated within the Sustainable and Healthy Communities National Research Program, where they focus on environmental justice, science translation, and cumulative risk impacts. He also volunteers with the RTP Speakers Bureau, where he regularly gives presentations on sustainability to a wide variety of audiences and organizations.
Asa Budnick is pursuing a PhD in Plant Biology. He works in the lab of Dr. Heike Sederoff studying plant molecular biology and genetics. Asa graduated with a BS in Biology from Northeastern University in 2018. Before entering NC State, he worked at MIT, Editas Medicine, and Inari Agriculture. With a focus on sequencing and gene editing technology development for crop improvement. Asa wants to work to improve food system sustainability and food sovereignty while utilizing and building an understanding of plant genetics.
GES Colloquium (GES 591-002) is jointly taught by Drs. Jen Baltzegar and Dawn Rodriguez-Ward, who you may contact with any class-specific questions. Colloquium will generally be live-streamed via Zoom, with monthly in-person meetings in the 1911 Building, room 129. Please subscribe to the GES newsletter and Twitter for updates .