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New Crops News, Spring 1992, vol. 2 no. 1

Highlights from the Second National Symposium on New Crops

Over 370 persons from 44 states and 16 countries attended the Second National Symposium, New Crops: Exploration, Research, Commercialization held in Indianapolis, Indiana on 6-9 Oct. The symposium held in cooperation with the Association for the Advancement of Industrial Crops (AAIC) was cosponsored by ASHS, ISHS, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and The Society for Economic Botany. Institutional support was provided by the Indiana Business Modernization and Technology Corporation, USDA, CSRS, the New Crops Center of Purdue University, and the Center for Alternative Plant and Animal Products, University of Minnesota. Industrial sponsors included Dow Elanco, The Proctor and Gamble Company, and Petoseed.

The symposium was organized by James E. Simon and Jules Janick, Purdue University, Anson E. Thompson and Henry L Shands, USDA, with the broad objective to provide a national forum for leading authorities from industry, government, agricultural producers, experiment stations, and academia to discuss the status and future of new crop development. There were a total of 69 invited presentations and 108 posters. The Honorable Richard Lugar, senior Senator from Indiana and ranking minority member of the Senate's Agriculture Committee, was the featured speaker at the Welcoming Reception and spoke on The Farm Bill and the Future of American Agriculture. Senator Lugar stressed the dilemmas facing American and international agriculture in light of the recent developments in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union as well as the present economic and trade situation in the United States and Europe. Jack Harlan, new crop explorer and evolutionist, was the banquet speaker and presented a fascinating account of his early explorations in Asia with emphasis on the highlands of Pakistan.

Sessions included New Crops: Policy and Politics, International Developments in New Crops, and a North American Forecast divided into Industry Outlook, Regional Developments and a discussion of New Crops Centers. An evening session, Biotechnology, included three papers on genetic engineering in oilseed and industrial crops. There were two concurrent session covering the status of New Crop Research which included presentations on Cereals and Pseudocereals, Aromatic Medicinal and Bioactive Plants, Forages and Grain Legumes, Vegetable Crops, Fiber Crops, Floral and Landscape Crops, Industrial Oilseed Crops, and Fruits. The last day included a morning session on Plant Exploration and an afternoon panel discussion organized by AAIC on Commercializing Industrial Crops. James E. Simon wrapped up the meeting with a summary of the symposium.

In addition to the oral and poster sessions ten exhibitors hosted displays. A large tropical fruit and vegetable display organized by Jonathan H. Crane of the University of Florida's Tropical Research and Education Center at Homestead created a tremendous amount of interest for tropical horticulture.

The proceedings of the conference will be published in book form and are expected to appear early in 1993. The proceedings of the first symposium have been published by Timber Press in a 560 page book entitled Advances in New Crops, which is available at $65 plus postage; credit card orders can be telephoned (800)327-5680. Extra copies of the program which includes abstracts of invited and poster presentations are available at $10; make checks payable to Purdue University and mail request to Jules Janick, 1165 Horticulture, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1165.

The high points of the symposium were evidence of increasing acceptance of a number of new crops. Although funding for new crop research has been erratic, the 1990 Farm Bill has made funding provisions available for an Alternative Agricultural Research and Commercialization, Center (AARC) which will begin to play a growing role beginning in 1992. AARC has been allocated $4.5 million in its first year to work with researchers and entrepreneurs. Clearly not all new crop candidates will make it, and a combination of research information, economic incentive, and enthusiastic crop champions will tip the balance.

The high attendance achieved at this symposium despite the present economic downturn and the enthusiasm generated throughout indicated that new crops continue to generate interest and fascination. Plans are already underway for the 3rd National Symposium in 1995.

Jules Janick
Department of Horticulture