Dr. Jane Dever, Texas AgriLife Research cotton geneticist at Lubbock, was recently appointed to a two-year term on the National Genetic Resources Advisory Council, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture news release.
The April 6 release said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the announcement naming Dever and eight other new members to the council. Dever is the sole Texas appointee.
As a scientific member, Dever’s overall role is to provide scientific advice related to her expertise, which includes classical plant breeding, germplasm collections, protecting genetic resources and genetic diversity.
“I hope to help formulate recommendations to ensure these essential resources are adequately conserved and appropriately accessible to address current and future agricultural needs,” Dever said.
As a council member, Dever will advise on genetic research needs regarding access and exchange of genetic resources for the public’s benefit both here and abroad.
“As a public cotton breeder with former involvement in developing commercial varieties with biotechnology traits, I hope to be able to emphasize the important role of the public plant breeder in genetic resource preservation,” Dever said. “I plan to work to ensure that policies and procedures are in place so all farmers have access to new genetic improvements, including those who raise organic and low-input crops.”
The council is tasked with formulating recommendations on actions and policies for the collection, maintenance and utilization of genetic resources of several domestic and international organizations, Dever said. It also advises the Secretary of Agriculture and the National Genetic Resources Program director of new and innovative approaches to genetic resources conservation.
Prior to joining AgriLife Research in 2008, Dever served as a global cotton breeding manager for Bayer CropScience, where she developed products for regions where biotechnology was accepted, prohibited or in transition. At AgriLife Research, she is involved in breeding cultivars and germplasm without biotechnology traits. She said those experiences gave her a unique perspective into genetic resource preservation and maintenance, which should serve her well in her council role.
“It is imperative that we have the tools and knowledge to ensure all interests that touch genetic resources are served appropriately,” she said. “My passion for the integrity of cotton genetic resource preservation and maintenance of cotton led me back to the classical cotton breeding position I now hold with AgriLife Research.
“Though cotton is not primarily a food crop, it can provide valuable insights to the genetic integrity issues we will face in the future.”
Dever said AgriLife Research’s cotton improvement program at Lubbock manages one of the world’s largest efforts in increasing seed and screening ancestral accessions from available collections, along with a large traditional breeding program.
Joining Dever for either two- or four-year council terms are scientific members:
– Dr. Manjit Misra (chair), professor and director of the Seed Science Center Institute for Food Safety and Security, as well as director of the Biosafety Institute for Genetically Modified Agricultural Products at Iowa State University.
– Dr. Karen Moldenhauer, professor and rice industry chair for variety development, University of Arkansas.
– Dr. Stephen Smith, a fellow of Pioneer Hi-Bred International.
– Dr. Allison Snow, professor in the department of evolution, ecology, and organismal biology at The Ohio State University.
– Dr. Mulumebet Worku, animal scientist, professor and biotechnologist with North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.