Session Organisers

Dr Jannifer Anderson

Dr. Jennifer Anderson

Dr. Jennifer Anderson is a research scientist in the Global Regulatory Science department at DuPont Pioneer. She is a subject matter expert for environmental risk assessment. In this role, she draft ERAs for DuPont Pioneer products, provides technical review of regulatory submissions, and responds to regulator questions. She also leads the Publication and Submission Support group to review of scientific literature and draft, edit and review publications to support global submissions. Jennifer joined the company in 2009 and prior to her current role, worked as a post-doctoral research associate at Iowa State University. Jennifer holds a PhD degree in Environmental Toxicology from Texas Tech University and both Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Biology from Youngstown State University. Jennifer is an active member in CropLife International (Environmental Risk Assessment Project team, and Global Industry Collation Risk Assessment team), and recently joined the OECD Steering Group drafting an Environmental Considerations document entitled "Environmental Considerations for Risk/Safety Assessment for the Release of Transgenic Plants".

 Dr. Detlef Bartsch

Prof. Dr. Detlef Bartsch

Prof. Dr. Detlef Bartsch studied biology at the Universities of Munster and Gottingen. His research carrier covers plant ecology at the Berlin & Aachen Universities of Technology as well as plant population genetics at the University of California Riverside. He is currently head of the Department "Gene Technology" at the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) in Berlin, Germany. His experience includes risk assessment & management, population biology of cultivar/wild plant complexes, conservation of plant genetic resources, environmental biosafety research, and monitoring of GM plants with resistance to insects, viruses, nematodes and herbicides. As sideline activities, he is lecturer for Botany at the RWTH Aachen University - Institute for Environmental Research - since 2002. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) appointed him for the EFSA GMO Panel from 2003–2012.

Dr. Wendy Craig

Dr. Wendy Craig  

Dr. Wendy Craig is currently the Group Leader of the ICGEB’s Biosafety Group (Trieste, Italy) which is principally involved in biosafety capacity enhancement in their Member States (primarily developing countries). She is actively managing projects targeting locally-identified needs in GMO regulation and information dissemination, focussing on the governmental, institutional and individual levels. These activities rely on strengthening collaborations and creating synergies with international organisations and experts operating in similar or associated arenas. Dr. Craig gained her PhD at Nottingham University, UK in 1996 studying approaches for the genetic manipulation of oilseed rape. This led her conducting a series of plant biotechnology-based post-doctorate studies in various parts of the world before joining the ICGEB Biosafety Group in January 2005. She regularly authors articles and reviews in the field of GMO biosafety.

 Dr. Tomal Dattaroy

Dr. Tomal Dattaroy

Dr. Tomal Dattaroy completed a PhD in biotechnology from CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory, Pune. His doctoral dissertation was on characterization of a virus infecting sugarcane.

Tomal has a diverse profile in crop science research. At the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) he did extensive molecular fingerprinting (AFLP and microsatellites) of sorghum. In 1998, he was a postdoc at the University of Kentucky at Lexington where he carried out two different studies. The first was on engineering plants to confer resistance to a broad spectrum of pathogens by expressing a feedback regulatory loop. The other study was on characterizing a complex of plant exoribonucleases called the exosome, and the role of polyadenylation in the turnover of RNA.

At the SPIC Science Foundation in Chennai, India, he led an effort on characterization of cold active proteases from Bacillus for the processing of leather. He was also with Metahelix Life Sciences, Bangalore where he coordinated multiple projects including service projects for international clients that involved characterization of transgenic rice. In-house projects at Metahelix involved developing transgenic cotton for insect resistance. He has patents granted on novel promoters to his credit.

Tomal is currently with the Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), Navi Mumbai, India and is responsible for coordinating the overall regulatory matters related to biological sciences for RIL.

 Sarah Davis

Ms. Sarah Davis

Ms. Sarah Davis earned both her BSc (2004) and MSc (2007) degrees at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada with a specialization in the areas of molecular biology and entomology. Ms. Davis has extensive experience as a risk assessor with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Beginning in 2007, she was responsible for evaluating the safety of plants with novel traits before their release into the Canadian environment. In 2015, she ascended to the National Manager role where she now leads and directs the activities of a group of risk assessors. Ms. Davis has represented the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in national and international fora related to environmental risk assessment, including bilateral discussions on biotechnology regulation with other national competent authorities. In addition, Ms. Davis is a member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Working Group on the Harmonisation of Regulatory Oversight in Biotechnology. She leads the development of the Environmental Considerations consensus document, whose purpose is to provide science-based considerations to inform the assessment of whether the release of transgenic plants might pose risks to the environment.

Dr. Yann Devos

Dr. Yann Devos

Dr. Yann Devos is a senior scientific officer and team leader at the GMO Unit of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA; Italy) where he is involved in the risk assessment of genetically modified organisms and the development of risk assessment guidelines. He is employed by EFSA since 2008, and previously worked at the Biosafety and Biotechnology Division of the Scientific Institute of Public Health (Belgium) for more than four years. Yann gathered extensive experience in the environmental risk assessment of genetically modified plants and their associated farm management practices. He has an MSc in Biology (ecology) and a supplementary degree in Environmental Sciences from the University of Antwerp, and a PhD in Applied Biological Sciences from the Ghent University. In 2015, Yann joined the OECD Steering Group drafting the consensus document on "Environmental Considerations for Risk/Safety Assessment for the Release of Transgenic Plants".

 Dr Nina Duensing 

Dr. Nina Duensing

Dr. Nina Duensing is a scientific officer at department 4 "Genetic Engineering" of the German Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL), Berlin, and is involved in risk assessment of GMOs and in the tasks of the BVL as German Competent Authority for the Cartagena Protocol. Nina assesses applications for authorisation of GMOs in the European Union according to Directive 2001/18/EC and Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003. She joined the office in 2016 and, prior to her present position, worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute of Organic Chemistry of the Leibniz University of Hannover where she worked on the biosynthesis of microbial secondary metabolites and Max-Planck-Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology at Golm near Potsdam, where she worked on molecular mechanisms of plant-microbe interactions. Nina holds a PhD degree in Molecular Plant Physiology from the University of Potsdam, and a Master’s degree in Plant Biotechnology from the University of Hannover.

 Dr. Monica Garcia-Alonso

Dr. Monica Garcia-Alonso

Dr. Monica Garcia-Alonso is an independent consultant and is the owner of Estel Consult Ltd, based in the UK. Her main areas of expertise are environmental risk assessment and regulatory affairs for agricultural biotechnology products and agrochemicals. Monica studied her degree in Biology at the University of Barcelona from 1985 to 1990, specialising in zoology and entomology. She then did an MPhil at the CSIC (Centro superior de investigaciones cientificas) in Barcelona on insect physiology and ecology (1990-1992). Monica then moved to the UK where she started working at the entomology department of ICI, conducting studies on insects and nematodes. In 1993 she started to work as a scientific officer at the biochemistry department at Zeneca, as part of the electrophysiology team, studying the mode of action of insecticides. In 1994 Zeneca sponsored Monica’s PhD on neurobiology at the University of Reading. On completion of her PhD in 1997 Monica started to work at the Environmental Sciences Department at Zeneca, where she was part of the terrestrial ecology team, working as an environmental risk assessor for agrochemicals. In this role Monica was also responsible for developing the then emerging area of environmental risk assessment of genetically modified (GM) crops, setting up and managing external collaborations and developing the risk assessment strategy for GM crops in Zeneca. In 2001 Monica moved to the Biotechnology regulatory affairs function at Syngenta, where she was a regulatory manager and environmental risk assessment expert. In this role, Monica was the project lead for various GM products and responsible for developing strategies to obtain data for their registration. In 2011 Monica left Syngenta and started her current role as an independent consultant at Estel Consult Ltd.

In her role at Estel Consult, Monica has participated and organised numerous international training workshops where she has given lectures on environmental risk assessment, the use of problem formulation and food and feed risk assessments. Monica has also provided support as an environmental risk assessment expert to international organisations like USAID and ILSI-CERA and industry groups.

Through her career, Monica has gained a lot of experience on the regulatory requirements for registration of GM crops and environmental risk assessments. She is an experience trainer, ready to share her knowledge on these subjects.

 Dr. Sol Ortiz García

Dr. Sol Ortiz Garcia

Dr. Sol Ortiz Garcia received her degree in biology from The National Autonomous University of México (UNAM). She also has a PhD in Ecology from UNAM. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, Sol joined the National Institute of Ecology (INE), a branch of the SEMARNAT (The Ministry of Environment in Mexico) as advisor of INE’s President. In 2004, she was appointed Coordinator of the Biosafety Program at INE. Her duties involved, among others, drafting technical opinions on environmental risk assessments for GMOs. She also performed field research on the presence of GMOs released to the environment, as part of government monitoring activities.

In 2007, Sol was appointed as director of the Executive Secretariat at the Inter-ministerial Commission for Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms (CIBIOGEM). Her role was to coordinate and analyse technical aspects for the implementation and follow-up of CIBIOGEM agreements. Starting in 2014 she was appointed as the Executive Secretary of CIBIOGEM where she, among other activities, promotes and coordinates actions of the ministries and consulting bodies for ensuring that the products of biotechnology are used safely in Mexico. She is the National Focal Point for the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD). She has served on several national and international committees and expert groups specialised in the development of public policies on Biosafety and Biotechnology. Sol also organises and collaborates on capacity building activities, and has participated in workshops, congresses and symposia and has several peer review publications, book chapters and publications on risk assessment and biosafety of GMOs.

 Dr. Juan Manual De La Fuente Martianez

Dr. Juan Manual De La Fuente Martinez

Dr. Juan Manual De La Fuente Martinez is a plant biotechnologist working at the Regulatory Policy & Scientific Affairs group of Monsanto (Latin America) since 2000. During this time he have had the opportunity to interact with researchers, academics, representatives of companies, regulators, farmers, non-profit organisations and consumers from different Latin America North countries interested in GM crops. He received his Doctor of Sciences degree in Plant Genetic Engineering (CINVESTAV-IPN, México, 1996).

 Dr. Michael Meissle

Dr. Michael Meissle

Dr. Michael Meissle is Senior Scientist at Agroscope, the agricultural research institute of the Swiss government. He studied biology in Munich and conducted his PhD at Agroscope in Zurich until 2009. Research fellowships allowed him to gain experience in the UK, New Zealand, and Australia. He is currently deputy leader of the Biosafety research group at Agroscope, which is focusing on risks and benefits of genetically modified (GM) plants and of introduced exotic arthropods.

Michael has been working in the area of non-target risk assessment since 2001. His research interests cover laboratory, field, and landscape-level effects of GM crops on arthropods; multitrophic interactions between plants, arthropods, and microorganisms; transfer of Bt proteins between trophic levels (using ELISA); bioactivity of insecticidal proteins in plants, herbivores, and beneficial arthropods. Systematic literature reviews on arthropods in European agricultural crops and on arthropods in Bt maize have been conducted by Michael for the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the EU-project GRACE. Michael has been active in the IOBC-WPRS working group on GMOs in Integrated Plant Protection since its establishment in 2003 and since 2013 he acts as convenor of this group. One focus of his work is to evaluate how GM crops fit into the IPM concept and how current agricultural systems can be improved using GM crops.


Dr. Jaime Enrique Padilla-Acero

Dr. Jaime Enrique Padilla-Acero was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco. He currently works as Technical Director at AgroBIO-Mexico, promoting outreach and supporting regulatory and communications activities in plant science and agricultural biotechnology.

He obtained his B.Sc. in Experimental Biology at the Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM) in Mexico City. In Cuernavaca, Morelos, he continued graduate studies at research centers of The National University (nowadays, Center for Genomic Research and the Institute of Biotechnology-UNAM), working on the molecular biology of diazotrophic symbiosis and other plant-microbe interactions. He completed a postdoc at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville (USA), studying strategies and applications of genomic analysis in plants, namely DNA fingerprinting, genetic mapping and marker-assisted breeding of legume crops.

Dr. Padilla dedicated also efforts to educational and academic advance at public and private institutions, strengthening junior-high, undergraduate and graduate plans and schools with emphasis in biology, natural sciences and engineering under conventional or open (tutorial) systems. Work was done for the management of knowledge to protect intellectual property and promoting R&D community-industry networking. He collaborated in the foundation of one of the first Polytechnic Universities (the unit in Morelos, UPEMOR) where a novel undergraduate program in Biotechnology Engineering was established 12 years ago. He also collaborated lively to improve social communication of science and technology, promoting the Morelos state S&T council (CECyTEM), the science museum (Maticalli) and the first center for innovation and technological transfer (CeMITT).

He has been working attentively for the socialization of themes concerning applications of genetic engineering and biotechnology for agriculture and energy production, through museum expositions, audiovisual presentations, TV & radio programs, and especially, co-authoring a book with Dr. Lopez-Munguia, 2003 National Awardee in S&T), on diverse, realistic and fictional stories around the status of “transgenic food” in Mexico. He was advisor to governmental offices related to biodiversity conservation and sustainable use; seed inspection and certification, and was president of the Morelos chapter belonging to the Mexican Society of Biotechnology and Bioengineering (SMBB).

 Dr. Andrew Roberts

Dr. Andrew Roberts

Dr. Andrew Roberts joined the ILSI Research Foundation in December 2009 as the Deputy Director of the Center for Environmental Risk Assessment (CERA), where his first tasks included developing tools and materials for use in training and capacity building related to the problem formulation approach to environmental risk assessment published by the Research Foundation (Wolt et al., 2009). He has served as the coordinator for CERA’s capacity building projects under the USAID funded South Asia Biosafety Program (SABP) and the World Bank funded Partnership for Biosafety Risk Assessment and Regulation, in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Vietnam as well as providing technical support for capacity building work in Brazil, India, Japan, Chile, and South Africa. In January of 2015 he became the director of CERA as well as the Center for Safety Assessment of Food and Feed (CSAFF).

Prior to joining CERA, Andrew worked at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in several different capacities, all related to the regulation of agricultural biotechnology. He began his career at USDA as an AAAS Risk Policy Fellow in the Office of Science of Biotechnology Regulatory Services (BRS), the group responsible for regulating genetically engineered plants at USDA. After spending a year in the New Technologies office of the Foreign Agricultural Service serving as the lead for USDA’s efforts related to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, he returned to BRS to serve in the International Affairs branch where he remained until joining ILSI RF.

Andrew received his PhD in Cell and Developmental Biology from Rutgers University where he worked on signal transduction in the model nematode C. elegans.

 Prof. Dr. Joerg Romeis

Dr. Joerg Romeis

Dr. Joerg Romeis is the head of the Biosafety Research Group at Agroscope, in Zurich, Switzerland. Agroscope is the Swiss centre of excellence for agricultural research, and is affiliated with the Federal Office for Agriculture. In addition, he is a lecturer at the University of Bern and an adjunct professor at the Institute of Plant Protection of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

Joerg has an MSc and PhD in biology and has been trained as an applied entomologist with a focus on biological control and multi-trophic interactions. He has more than 16 years of experience in non-target risk assessment of genetically modified (GM) crops and in particular in the design and execution of non-target laboratory studies. The focus of his research has been on the effects of Bt-plants, such as maize and cotton, on valued non-target arthropods and the ecosystem services they provide. In addition to primary research, he has also been actively involved in defining operational environmental protection goals, and in developing guidelines for risk assessment and testing protocols.

From 2003 to 2013, Joerg has served as convener of the working group "GMOs in Integrated Plant production" of the Western Palaearctic Regional Section (WPRS) of the International Organization for Biological Control (IOBC). Within this working group he has organized and led several international expert panels to develop a rigorous approach to evaluate potential non-target risks of GM crops, to propose design criteria for laboratory studies with non-target organisms, and to develop criteria for the selection of surrogate test species.

 Dr. Tony Shelton

Dr. Tony Shelton

Dr. Tony Shelton is an International Professor of Entomology at Cornell, an Associate Director of International Agricultural Programs at Cornell, and the Director of the USAID project Feed the Future South Asia Eggplant Improvement Partnership in Bangladesh and the Philippines.

Tony works to develop sound integrated pest management (IPM) strategies for vegetables with spinoffs for other crops. Components of his programs stress insect population ecology, biological control, plant resistance, agricultural biotechnology, insecticide resistance, insect movement, trap cropping, invasive species and plant productivity and marketability as a function of insect infestations.

In the last 20 years, a considerable amount of his effort has been devoted to risk assessment of insect management strategies, especially insect-resistant genetically engineered crops. In his current role as Director of the USAID project on Bt eggplant for Bangladesh and the Philippines he works with product developers, country regulators and in-country personnel to develop sustainable management practices to ensure the durability of Bt eggplant.

He received his BA in Classics and Philosophy from St. Mary’s College of California and his MS and Ph.D. in Entomology from the University of California, Riverside. He has published 239 journal articles, 4 Annual Review of Entomology papers, 36 book chapters, and 85 extension or popular press articles. For his efforts he has received the Entomology Society of America (ESA) National Award for IPM (1995), the New York State Award for Excellence in IPM (2007), the ESA National Recognition Award for Research (2005), Cornell Award for Applied Research (2007), the ESA Eastern Branch L.O. Howard Award (2011) and the ESA National IPM Team Award (2013). In 2010 he was elected an ESA Fellow.

Dr. Thorben Sprink

Dr. Thorben Sprink 

 Dr. Thorben Sprink studied Plant Biotechnology at the Leibniz University Hannover, and finished his Master studies in early 2012. In spring 2012, he joined the Julius Kuehn Institute, Institute for Biosafety in Plant Biotechnology. During his PhD he worked on double strand breaks and their repair in meiosis. He finalised his dissertation thesis on "SPO11 dependent initiation of meiotic double strand breaks in Arabidopsis thaliana" in 2015. In 2013, he started working on the biosafety of sequence specific nucleases. Since 2015, he is a senior scientist working on the development of new technologies for targeted genome modification and their regulation. Thorben is author of several publications on genome editing and their regulatory approaches. He organised and spoke at several workshops on the abovementioned topics.

Dr. Carmen Vicien

Dr. Carmen Vicien

Dr. Carmen Vicien obtained her Agricultural Science Degree (Agrarian Engineer) from the University of Buenos Aires, and has Post-graduate Degrees in France, where she studied at the Institute Agronomique Meditarraneen from Montpellier and the University of Paris I.

Carmen has held the position of Technical Chair for the National Advisory Commission on Agricultural Biotechnology (CONABIA for its name in Spanish), the institution responsible for advising the Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries on regulation of activities related with agricultural genetically modified organisms in Argentina. She was also member of the Argentine delegation negotiating the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity and participated as well in numerous international consultations and programs concerned with issues such as biotechnology development and biosafety.

Carmen has been Regional Manager for Latin America for AGBIOS (a consultancy providing public policy, regulatory, and risk assessment expertise to public and private sectors pertaining to agricultural biotechnology), has lectured on courses organized by international and regional organizations (FAO, ICGEB, UNEP, CLI, ILSI) and participated in several Biosafety Projects (World Bank, UNEP, FAO). She is currently Full Professor at the School of Agriculture of the University of Buenos Aires and has coordinated, and participated as expert, in various research and development projects funded by the University of Buenos Aires, the National Agency for the Scientific and Technological Promotion from Argentina, the European Commission and FAO. In addition, she has published a number of scientific papers and technical articles, and o-edited several books.

Since 2013, Carmen is Senior Consultant for the Center on Environmental Risk Assessment (CERA) of the ILSI Research Foundation, where she has been particularly involved in the activities of the Partnership for Biosafety Risk Assessment and Regulation.