PANELISTS

  • Ron Insana, Senior Analyst, CNBC and Financial Industry Expert View Full Bio

    A financial journalist who stands alone among his peers in having the experience of working for and running his own hedge fund, Ron Insana offers clear, unvarnished insights on the ever-changing status of the economy. Currently host of a nationally-syndicated daily radio show and a senior analyst and commentator for CNBC, Insana has access to all of the top financial players in Washington and on Wall Street and translates the market signals and political maneuvers into information everyone understands. His hands-on experience in the financial industry—through some of the markets’ most turbulent times—give an added depth of perspective that few analysts can match. He offers practical advice on what individuals and businesses can and should do now to protect what you have and to find opportunities in any type of market condition. Insana is the author of Traders’ Tales, The Message of the Markets, TrendWatching and most recently How to Make a Fortune from the Biggest Bailout in U.S. History: A Guide to the 7 Greatest Bargains from Main Street to Wall Street.

  • Jerry Slocum, Mississippi soybean farmer View Full Bio

    Jerry Slocum is currently president of North Mississippi Grain Company – a family-owned country grain elevator business. He also owns and operates a corn, soybean and wheat farming operation in Tate County, Mississippi.

    Currently, Jerry serves on USDA’s Secretary Tom Vilsack’s Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture. Prior to this, he served on the committee for both former USDA Secretary Dan Glickman and Secretary Ann Veneman.

    Jerry has been a member of the United States Soybean Federation Board of Directors since its inception in 2009 and is currently serving as president of the Federation. He also serves as Chairman of the Midsouth Soybean Board and Chairman of the Delta Council’s Soybean and Wheat Committee. Other associations Jerry has been a long-time member of include the Mississippi Soybean Association Board of Directors, Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board, Mississippi Feed and Grain Board of Directors and Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation.

    From 1991 through 2002 he served on the United Soybean Board. While on the board, Jerry held various leadership positions including Chairman of the Board, Chairman of the International Marketing Committee, Chairman of the Biotechnology Task Force and was a member of the Better Bean Initiative. Jerry has traveled internationally 13 times to present the American farmer’s position on biotech crops to foreign governments, regulators, importers, and farm organizations.

  • Michael Olson, Consultant to metropolitan agriculture, author, MetroFarm, and executive producer/host of Food Chain Radio View Full Bio

    Michael Olson cultivated his first crop at the age of six with what he imagined, at the time, was the world’s biggest tractor. He has since participated in the commercial production of beans, beets, blueberries, cattle, garlic, hay, oats, shallots, strawberries, turf grass, wheat and wine grapes in the states of California, Montana and Oregon. A long-time journalist, Olson is also the author of MetroFarm, the Ben Franklin Book of the Year Finalist, and executive producer and host of the syndicated Saturday Food Chain radio talk show, which received the Ag/News Show of the Year Award from the California Legislature. Olson was also named Farm Bureau 2013-13 “Friend of Agriculture.”

  • Dr. Bob Goldberg, plant molecular biologist currently using genomics to identify all of the genes required to “make a seed”, UCLA View Full Bio

    Bob Goldberg is a plant molecular biologist who is currently using genomics to identify all of the genes required to "make a seed." Professor Goldberg received a B.S. in Botany from Ohio University, a Ph.D. degree in Plant Genetics from the University of Arizona, and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the California Institute of Technology. He joined the UCLA Faculty in 1976 and is currently a Distinguished Professor of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology.

    Professor Goldberg served as Director of the Plant Genetics Program at the USDA and was the Founding Editor of The Plant Cell, the leading journal in the area of plant biology. Professor Goldberg is also a Co-Founder of Ceres. Inc., a Thousand-Oaks-based Energy Crop Company and was Director of The Seed Institute, an intercampus “institute without walls” within the University of California dedicated to unraveling the processes that control seed development. Professor Goldberg has received many awards recognizing his contributions to the field of plant molecular biology, including election to the US National Academy of Sciences. Bob Goldberg is highly committed to undergraduate education and has received many awards for his novel teaching approaches, including the UCLA Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award, the UCLA Gold Shield Prize for Excellence in Research and Undergraduate Education, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) University Professorship, and was listed as one of the ‘Top 15 Professors’ in UCLA’s history. Recently, Professor Goldberg’s class on Genetic Engineering was named as one of the top 10 “hottest classes” in America.

  • Pam Johnson, Iowa corn farmer View Full Bio

    Pam Johnson, of Floyd, Iowa, serves as president of the Corn Board of the National Corn Growers Association, a farmer-led trade association with offices in St. Louis and Washington.

    Johnson is a sixth generation farmer who raises corn and soybeans with her husband, two sons and their young families. They also manage a seed business and are member investors in ethanol and biodiesel plants.

    On the national level, Johnson currently serves as a member of the Agri-Industry Council Executive Committee and represents NCGA with the National Coalition for Food and Agriculture Research and the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center. She is also a delegate to the U.S. Grains Council. Previously, Johnson chaired NCGA’s Research and Business Development Action Team and its Bylaws Committee. She also served as the board liaison to the NCGA Grower Services Action Team and the organizational liaison to the National Pork Producers Council.

    In her home state, Johnson is a director of the Iowa Corn Growers Association and former chairwoman of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board. She also serves as president of Iowa Corn Opportunities and is a former member of the U.S. Grains Council Biotech and Trade Policy A-Teams.

    Founded in 1957, the National Corn Growers Association represents approximately more than 38,000 dues-paying corn growers and the interests of more than 300,000 farmers who contribute through corn checkoff programs in their states. NCGA and its 48 affiliated state associations and checkoff organizations work together to help protect and advance corn growers’ interests.

  • Emily Anthes, journalist and author, Frankenstein’s Cat View Full Bio

    Emily Anthes is a science journalist and author. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, Scientific American, BBC Future, Discover, Popular Science, Slate, The Boston Globe, and elsewhere. Her new book, Frankenstein’s Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech’s Brave New Beasts, explores how biotechnology is shaping the future of animals. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

  • Steve Smith, Chairman, SaveOurCrops.Org View Full Bio

    Steve Smith is Director of Agriculture at Red Gold, Inc., the largest privately held canned tomato processor in the world. Steve has been active in all phases of the company, beginning as Distribution Manager, then 14 years as Agriculture Manager and named Director of Agriculture in 2005. In this position he works closely with their 52 growers in Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan as well as participating in Red Gold’s variety development program. Steve serves as the chairman for the newly formed Save Our Crops Coalition, a national group dedicated to protecting all sensitive crops from damage implicit with the release of growth regulator herbicide tolerant crops. He is co-chair for Red Gold’s new Sustainability Initiative and serves on the Sysco Corporation’s National Sustainability Advisory Board. He is a strong advocate for the processing tomato industry in areas of research, federal crop insurance, and product labeling, and serving in several capacities with the Mid-America Food Processor Association. With the passage of the 2002 Farm Bill, he helped create and lead an industry coalition to work on changes to the 2008 Farm Bill. With the passage of that Farm Bill and the inclusion of “Farm Flex,” Indiana and Midwestern fruit and vegetable growers now have needed flexibility to continue their farming traditions and processors are able to obtain needed specialty crop production. Steve has served on the Purdue University Dean of Agriculture Advisory Board, the Board of Directors of the Mid-America Agriculture and Horticulture Services, a Director of the American Fruit and Vegetable Processors and Growers Coalition, and is an inaugural member of the Indiana Department of Agriculture Advisory Board, and board member for the newly created FieldWatch, Inc. He participated in the 2006 Indiana Trade Mission to Central America with the ISDA. In 2009, Purdue University presented Steve with the Distinguished Agriculture Alumni Award.

    Steve earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture, with Distinction, from Purdue University in December 1975 and has been a Certified Crop Advisor since 1994. Born and raised on a livestock and grain farm in eastern Indiana (Hagerstown), he is married and the father of three children and eight grandchildren. He enjoys his small farming activities, has been a pilot for over 35 years, and is an active member in his local church. He and his family have hosted three International Exchange Students and have enjoyed the opportunity to travel to other parts of the world to renew those ties.

  • Melinda Hemmelgarm, M.S., R.D., Freelance writer, speaker, columnist and radio host at Food Sleuth, LLC View Full Bio

    Melinda Hemmelgarn is a registered dietitian, “investigative nutritionist,” and award-winning writer and radio host, better known as “the Food Sleuth.” With 30 years’ experience in clinical, academic and public health nutrition, she’s a trusted consumer advocate, and an engaging, articulate, and inspiring national speaker.

    Prior to her freelance writing and speaking career, Melinda developed and directed the Nutrition Communications Center at the University of Missouri, where she blazed the trail blending media literacy with nutrition education. In 2004, she received a Food and Society Policy Fellowship which allowed her to connect the dots between food, health and agriculture. Today she uniquely employs critical thinking skills to analyze media messages about food and farming, and advance "food system literacy."

    Melinda works creatively with her photographer husband on a project called, “F.A.R.M.:” - Food, Art, Revolution, Media – A Focus on Photography to Re-Vitalize Agriculture and Strengthen Democracy.” Their mission: use the synergistic power of compelling images and farmers’ stories to influence public opinion, and shape agriculture and health policy.

    Melinda also hosts Food Sleuth Radio, a syndicated Pacifica program, which ranks among the top national “green food radio shows,” and won 1st place for radio interview from the National Federation of Press Women.

    For 20 years, Melinda wrote a weekly column for the Columbia (MO) Daily Tribune. She has published articles in the American Journal of Nursing, Today's Dietitian, Arthritis Today, Natural Awakenings, ACRES, Current Health, and Edible Communities magazine; she has blogged for Stonyfield Farm, and writes an online column for Organic Valley.

    Melinda is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Practice Group. She also serves on the Boards of the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service, and the Organic Farming and Research Foundation.