The Launch of Another Academic Year
The Launch of Another Academic Year

The Launch of Another Academic Year

The start of classes in September signals that the days of summer are quickly coming to a close, the leaves will soon be changing colours and flocks of birds will be heading south. This can be disheartening, as we know that wintry days aren’t terribly far away. However, it’s also an exciting time of year as the hallways and classrooms are once again filled with excited and exuberant students. Wishing students on all campuses a great semester.

Our research team has been busy over the summer, having completed the analysis on a number of research papers that are presently under review with academic journals. If we’re fortunate, the review comments won’t be too onerous and these papers will be published within the coming months. We are also pleased to welcome a new member to the team, with Kaitlyn Sauser joining as a graduate student! Welcome Kate!


Busy Summer of Conferences

I was fortunate to have participated in a number of very informative conferences since classes ended last spring. In June, I was in Vitória, Brazil where I learned about research on using genetically modified technologies to increase the resistance of papaya against diseases that are threatening production there. The other fascinating research underway was the use of gene editing technologies to edit microbes that would increase the efficiency of producing ethanol from coconut husks and fibers. Perhaps the most interesting thing I learned from this trip was just how large the production of genetically modified trees is within Brazil. The forestry industry estimates that about 400,000 ha of GM trees are currently under production. While GM trees are still undergoing risk assessment and aren’t available for commercial production, commercial approval is shortly expected.

A trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina provided another excellent learning opportunity. Numerous speakers from across Latin America provided very informative presentations on the benefits of innovative technologies across the continent, as well as some of the challenges faced. A trip to a soybean research farm was a highlight.

My final trip of summer was to participate in discussions about agricultural biotechnology at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Agreement meetings and discussion held in Seattle, USA. Regulators from numerous Pacific nations were in attendance and it was great to have an opportunity to explain the environmental sustainability benefits of GM crops to them. I had a chance to speak with an official from Japan’s food regulatory authority, who explained the process of how gene edited fish are sold in Japan. All of the sales are done online for sushi consumption. Consumers are able to go online and place an order for the amount they would like to purchase and then it is freshly delivered.


Bit of a New Format

The current team of researchers has been actively writing blogs over the past few weeks and with some additional interest in writing blogs from other colleagues, I’m pleased to be able to announce that SAIFood is going to move to publishing two blogs per week. Blogs will appear every Tuesday as they’ve always done, but will be joined by an additional one on Thursdays. I’m looking forward to publishing more student blogs starting later in the fall; it is always a joy to be able to give students this opportunity.

I hope your fall is a good one. Wishing farmers a prosperous and safe harvest.