Dr. Catherine Feuillet Presents the Future of Bayer CropScience’s Trait Research
Friday, November 7, 2014
By: Catherine Feuillet, Head of Trait Research, Bayer CropScience
I was honored to be a featured speaker at the First International Conference on Genomics, Traits and Business (GTB14), an open forum on the state of scientific advancements, regulations, new collaborations, and product development. The conference, hosted in Charlotte, NC, brought together leaders from AgBiotech, seed companies, scientists, technology providers, and investors to discuss issues that shape our industries. My speech, “Harvesting high hanging fruits,” explained the commitment by Bayer to a new green revolution and dedication to increase crop supply to feed a hungry world.
The content of my speech revolved around the very real need for a new green revolution [Note 1]
. Despite land expansion and yield increases, the supply and demand gap is tightening. The population is rising and there are a number of external factors that are affecting the ability of farmers to meet demand. As such it is critical for us to investigate our agriculture practices so we are prepared to feed a hungry world.
Bayer is committed to contribute significantly to a new green revolution. We want to lead innovation, enable farmers (big and small), drive sustainable intensification of agriculture, enhance human health, and extend partnerships for collaborative solutions. As part of this vision, we are working to find traits that enhance and improve our key crops. We want to increase yield and protect it from diseases, pests and weeds.
In order to achieve this goal and improve crop yields - in particular to sustain wheat production - we are undertaking approaches and developing collaborations to better understand yield formation in order to come up with a comprehensive solution to maximize harvest. We are utilizing new technologies and resources developed in wheat to this end. Among those, the wheat genome sequence will be essential to provide information on the genes and their variations that underpin yield components.
In addition, we are deploying a relatively new discipline, Computational Life Science, into this research. Computational Life Science is an interdisciplinary science that combines computing and data analysis as well as mathematical models and simulations to understand and solve complex problems. Down the line, we are interested in deploying digital farming and offer new and integrated solutions to farmers.
Norman Borlaug famously said, “There are no miracles in agricultural production.” The ability to meet future food demands in a world with rapidly growing populations, increasingly chaotic weather patterns, insufficient storage, and real need for sustainable food production practices will require long term commitments and focused actions. We aim to be the leader that provides the innovative solutions required to sustain food production.
Overall, the conference was a wonderful opportunity to meet with industry and scientific leaders, and share innovative ideas. It was my privilege to be included among them. I am proud to lead the Bayer CropScience Trait Research team as we dive into research, catalyzing the next Green Revolution.
Note 1: For those of you who are not familiar, the “original” Green Revolution took place in the 1960s & 1970s. Led by Norman Borlaug, it was a time period of research and development around improving crop traits. Borlaug developed high yield and disease resistant wheat – and along with hybrid seeds, crop protection, new methods of irrigation, and modernization of management techniques - used it to combat hunger.
Dr. Catherine Feuillet is the Head of Trait Research for Bayer CropScience. She recently spoke at the International Conference on Genomics, Traits and Business and presented at the 2014 Borlaug Dialogue.