What technologies are farmers and ranchers using to produce food while protecting the environment? Is more research the answer to biotechnology in agriculture?

Take a look at excerpts from the panel discussion featuring leading scientists, academics, farmers, ranchers and thought leaders participating in a dynamic conversation about the role science and technology play in agriculture.


  • Moderator Michael Specter, American journalist/author, Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives View Full Bio

    Michael Specter is an American journalist and author of Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives. For nearly 15 years, Specter has worked as a staff writer at The New Yorker, covering topics ranging from science and technology to public health issues.

  • Daniel M. Dooley, Senior Vice President, External Affairs, University of California View Full Bio

    Daniel M. Dooley (Dan) was appointed University of California Senior Vice President, External Relations, in March 2009. As head of External Relations, Dooley leads the Division’s efforts in working with colleagues across the UC system to build public understanding and support for the University’s mission of teaching, research, and public service. The Division is focused on establishing strong relationships with external constituencies and building broad understanding of the many ways in which UC contributes to the lives of all Californians. Dooley’s External Relations responsibilities include directing the University offices of State and Federal Government Relations; Alumni and Constituent Affairs; Institutional Advancement; Issues Management, Policy Analysis and Coordination; and Communications.

    Dooley served as the University’s Vice President ’ Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) from 2008 to2011. As head of ANR, Dooley led the statewide research and public service organization responsible for activities in agriculture, natural resources, environmental sciences, family and consumer sciences, forestry, human and community development, 4-H/youth development and related areas. ANR programs and services include nearly 1,000 faculty, specialists and advisors with Cooperative Extension offices in 52 California counties and regions, and California’s Agricultural Experiment Station, located on the UC Berkeley, Davis and Riverside campuses.

    Dooley is a distinguished agricultural and environmental attorney with extensive experience in California. Throughout his career, he has held leadership positions in local, state and national agricultural organizations, as well as with the University. Prior to serving as UC Vice President ’ ANR, Dooley was a partner at Dooley, Herr and Peltzer, LLP, a Visalia-based law firm emphasizing agricultural, environmental, business and water rights law. He distinguished himself by successfully bridging environmental and economic considerations in a number of controversial legal cases. He was a partner from 1980 to 2002 in the family-owned Dooley Farms, a diversified San Joaquin Valley farming operation producing cotton, alfalfa and walnuts.

    In 2007, Dooley was cited by California Lawyer magazine’s Lawyer of the Year publication for his work to achieve settlement of two-decades-old litigation relating to the San Joaquin River. In 2004, he was inducted into the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service Research Hall of Fame. He also received the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Award of Distinction in 2000.

    Dooley received his bachelor's degree in agricultural economics from UC Davis and his J.D. from the McGeorge School of Law at the University of Pacific. He is also a graduate of the California Agricultural Leadership Program.

  • Dr. Bob Goldberg, UCLA, Department of Molecular, Cell, Developmental Biology 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 fifteen Professors’ in UCLA’s history. Recently, Professor Goldberg’s class on Genetic Engineering was named as one of the top ten ’hottest classes’ in America.

  • Eric Holst, Managing Director of Environmental Defense Fund's Working Lands Program
  • Neil Moseley, Owner and operator, Pleasant Acre Farms (natural growing vegetable farm)
  • Tim Nilsen, Farmer/rancher, Nilsen Farms
  • Katie Pratt, Farmer/rancher & Illinois Farm Families View Full Bio

    Katie and her husband, Andy, are seventh generation farmers raising farm kids, corn, soybeans, and seed corn with Andy’s family in north central Illinois. Katie grew up on a small farm raising cows, corn, beans and pigs and learning through her experiences with 4-H and FFA, the value of listening and conversing with others about agriculture. Today, Katie and Andy’s farm serves as a platform to talk to people from all walks of life ’ 4th graders from Chicago, John Deere dealers from France and teachers from local schools ’ about agriculture. In 2011, they were named Volunteers of the Year for Illinois’ Ag in the Classroom program. Katie was also named runner-up at the 2012 American Farm Bureau Young Farmers’ and Ranchers’ Discussion Meet.

    Katie describes herself as a professional volunteer, serving in leadership roles in the Lee County Fair Association, Amboy Central School’s PTC and the United Way of Lee County.

  • Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture View Full Bio

    Karen Ross was appointed Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture on January 12, 2011 by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. Secretary Ross has deep leadership experience in agricultural issues nationally, internationally, and here in California. Prior to joining CDFA, Secretary Ross was chief of staff for U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a position she accepted in 2009.

    Before her time at the United States Department of Agriculture, Secretary Ross served more than thirteen years as President of the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG), based in Sacramento. During that same period she served as the Executive Director of Winegrape Growers of America, a coalition of state winegrower organizations, and as Executive Director of the California Wine Grape Growers Foundation, which sponsors scholarships for the children of vineyard employees. Among Secretary Ross’ many achievements at CAWG was the creation of the nationally-recognized Sustainable Winegrowing Program, which assists wine grape growers in maintaining the long-term viability of agricultural lands and encourages them to provide leadership in protecting the environment, conserving natural resources, and enhancing their local communities.

    From 2001 to 2009, Secretary Ross served on the California State Board of Food and Agriculture. She was chair of the Ag Vision Subcommittee, which initiated the California Ag Vision process that resulted in a report issued in 2010 proposing a strategic plan for the future of the state’s agriculture and food system. http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/agvision/

    From 1989-96, Secretary Ross was Vice President of Government Affairs for the Agricultural Council of California, representing farmer-owned cooperatives. She specialized in food safety, pesticide use, environmental issues and cooperative business and tax laws. She also coordinated the group’s public relations program. From 1985-88 she was the Government Relations Director for the Nebraska Rural Electric Association. She directed state operations for the late U.S. Senator Ed Zorinsky from 1978-85.

    Secretary Ross was born and grew up as a 4-H kid on a farm in western Nebraska. She and her husband, Barry, own 800 acres of the family farm where her younger brother, a fourth-generation farmer, grows dry-land wheat, sunflowers, feed grains and cattle. The Secretary has a B.A. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is a graduate of the Nebraska Ag Leadership Program. She has served on numerous boards and committees in California agriculture, the wine industry and with various academic institutions. In 2005 she was recognized by the California Agriculture Leadership Foundation with a Profiles in Leadership award. She was honored by the University of California, Davis College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences with a Friend of the College award of distinction in 2007. The Lodi Woodbridge Winegrape Commission presented her with the 2008 Wine Industry Integrity Award.

  • Richard Smith, California wine grape grower View Full Bio

    Rich Smith and family have been growing grapes in Monterey County since 1973. They’ve ’written the book’ on Monterey viticulture, having raised vinifera wine grapes in every sub-appellation in the region from Carmel Valley to the Santa Lucia Highlands to Hames Valley. The Smiths currently farm 2500 vineyard acres on fourteen properties. They produce wine grapes for many nationally-known brands, from large producers Mondavi, Kendall-Jackson, Hess, and Estancia to medium-sized labels Saintsbury, Morgan, and Chalone. Small artisan wineries like Pelerin, Campion, and Tudor compete for the Smith’s fruit, as well.

    The Smiths have been actively involved in local, state and national agricultural and wine industry organizations for more than 30 years. Richard, Claudia and Jason have all held leadership roles on various boards and committees. They continue to work hard to promote Monterey and their vision for the future to all audiences: governmental, media, trade, and, especially, local communities and consumers.

  • Stuart Woolf, Farmer/rancher, Woolf Farms View Full Bio

    Stuart Patrick Woolf is President and CEO of Woolf Farming & Processing. Woolf Farming & Processing is a family owned operation whose primary business is the production and processing of agricultural commodities. The Company was named the 2004 Agribusiness of the Year in Fresno County and the Family Business of the Year (2004) by the Family Business Institute at Fresno State University. He also serves as the managing partner for two related entities; Harris Woolf California Almonds and Los Gatos Tomato Products. Harris Woolf is a processor and handler of raw almonds. Los Gatos manufactures bulk tomato paste for industrial users. The company also owns Coastal Green Vegetable Company in Oxnard California. He received a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from the University of California at Berkeley and an MBA at Boston College. Mr. Woolf has served as Chairman of the California League of Food Processors and the Almond Board of California. He is past member of the Young Presidents Organization’s Golden Gate Chapter and past Chairman of the UC President’s Commission of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Stuart currently serves on the board of Ruiz Food Products.

    Stuart and Lisa were married in 1984 and have five children.