Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack has been named a Distinguished Fellow in Iowa State University's Biosafety Institute for Genetically Modified Agricultural Products. "Gov. Vilsack's expertise in issues relating to public policy and science will greatly enhance the work of our institute," says ISU President Gregory Geoffroy. "He will promote the institute's role as a resource for decision makers as they seek to better understand the vitally important issues in agricultural biotechnology."
"We look forward to Gov. Vilsack's contributions in public policy and in teaching and mentoring our students on public service," adds Wendy Wintersteen, dean of ISU's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Vilsack will teach on biotech policy
Manjit Misra, head of the Biosafety Institute for Genetically Modified Agricultural Products, or BIGMAP, says Vilsack will work with ISU professors on developing content for a new graduate course on science, policy and management and will help teach the course. The course is part of a graduate minor that will include courses on risk assessment, risk communication and science policy.
"Gov. Vilsack will represent BIGMAP at national and international conferences, as well as campus events organized by the institute," says Misra. "He will present information on science-based policymaking in areas such as biotechnology and food security."
Vilsack also will serve on the institute's advisory council, which includes representatives from state and federal agencies and private groups.
Beginning Oct. 1, Vilsack will work quarter-time for the institute for the next two years. After two years, the institute may extend his involvement for additional one-year terms. Vilsack will be paid from an endowment that supports BIGMAP's biosafety policy and regulation activities.
BIGMAP analyzes risks and benefits
Vilsack served as Iowa's governor from 1999 to 2007. Among his many areas of service as governor, he represented Iowa on the Governors Biotechnology Partnership and the Ethanol Coalition. He is an attorney with Dorsey & Whitney, an international law firm with offices in Des Moines, and a distinguished visiting professor of law at Drake University.
The Biosafety Institute for Genetically Modified Agricultural Products in ISU's College of Ag and Life Sciences develops tools and methods to analyze risks and benefits of genetically modified plant and animal products. The institute also provides strategies for mitigating the risks to safeguard consumers and the environment. Faculty and staff affiliated with BIGMAP communicate the results of these activities to key policy and regulatory groups, private firms and the public.