Speaker biographies

Feeding the World Conference, November 12th 2008
Speaker biographies

Dr Michael Antoniou is research group leader and lecturer in molecular genetics, Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics, King’s College London. He has 24 years experience in the use of genetic engineering technology investigating gene organisation and control, with over 40 peer-reviewed publications of original work. Dr Antoniou boasts a large network of collaborators both within the UK and abroad to exploit his discoveries in gene control mechanisms for safe and efficacious human somatic gene therapy for inherited and acquired genetic disorders.

He has acted in an advisory capacity on biotechnology issues to many organisations both nationally and internationally including the Soil Association, Greenpeace, Econexus, GeneWatchUK, Friends of the Earth and Iceland Frozen Foods. Dr Antoniou was nominated jointly by the main national NGOs to represent their views during the second session of the UK government’s GM Science Review Panel, part of the “GM Nation?” public debate in 2003. He has acted in an advisory capacity on applications of genetic modification (GM) in medicine and especially agriculture by members to all major (and some minor) political parties.

Dr Jeremy Cherfas currently lives and works in Rome, where he is assistant to the director general of Bioversity International, the world’s largest research organisation concerned with the use of agricultural biodiversity to improve poor people’s livelihoods. Before that he worked in science journalism and consulting, presenting several radio and television programmes. He is also the author of many books, including Man-made Life, one of the first to attempt to explain the science of genetic engineering to the general public.

His writing and broadcasting have been recognized with awards and prizes, among them the Cortina Ulisse prize for science writing, for the Italian editon of Man-made Life, and the Glenfiddich Award for Radio Programme of the Year, for a programme about the tinned meat Spam.


Dr Charlie Clutterbuck has been a Research Fellow in Food Policy at City University since May 2003. Having graduated with three degrees in agricultural science, he worked in the 1970s for the British Society for Social Responsibility campaigning against pollution at work, in the environment and food. He founded Hazards Bulletin (now Hazards) in the mid 1970s.
He has been a member of two UK government committees – an appointed member of the Advisory Committee on Pesticides (2002-07) and a working level member of the Trade Union Sustainable Development Advisory Committee.


Jack Heinemann is a professor of gene ecology and molecular biology and director of the Centre for Integrated Research in Biosafety at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. He was a lead author in the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD). He is an adjunct professor at GenOk – Centre for Biosafety in Norway. He is the recipient of the New Zealand Association of Scientist’s Research Medal.


Janice Jiggins is a social scientist, former Professor of Human Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and currently based at Communication and Innovation Studies, Wageningen University Research, The Netherlands. She is a Visiting Fellow, IIED, London, acts as Chair of the Program Advisory Committee of the System-wide Program on Participatory Research and Gender Issues of the CGIAR and sits on the Management Board of Tropenbos International.

For more than thirty years she has worked and published widely on small farm development in the tropics, extension systems, farming systems research, Participatory Plant Breeding, natural resource management, Integrated Pest Management, gender issues and, within Europe, on the sustainable management of water in the agrarian sector.

For the last three years she has contributed intensively to the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (www.agassessment.org) and follow up activities.


After pursuing research in population genetics and ecology, Dr Brian Johnson was until 2006 senior advisor on biotechnology to the British statutory nature conservation agencies and was head of the Agricultural Technologies Group at English Nature (now “Natural England”), the UK government’s advisors on nature conservation.

He has been closely involved in the debate on potential effects of GMOs on biodiversity and other aspects of the environment. He has written numerous articles in the scientific and popular press about biosafety, conservation and the impact of biotechnology on the environment. Dr Johnson has been a member of several advisory committees concerned with biological research, regulating the release of GMOs into the environment, and the development of more sustainable farming methods.

In 2002/3 he was a member of the UK GM Science Review Panel. In 2004 he chaired the panel reviewing biosafety within CGIAR. He was a lead author of the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development, an initiative launched by the World Bank/UNEP.


Dr Julia Wright works as Head of Programmes for Garden Organic, formerly the Henry Doubleday Research Association, where she oversees the Heritage Seed Library, Horticultural Research, International Development and Sustainable Waste Management activities. With over 20 years experience in organic and sustainable agriculture and development worldwide, her PhD focused on organic agriculture and food security in Cuba at the end of the 1990s.

Feeding the World Conference


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