Precautionary Principle Center Stage of NIAA's Annual Conference

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO—Four speakers at the National Institute for Animal Agriculture’s 2014 Annual Conference in Omaha, Neb., will tackle the highly debated “Precautionary Principle,” a controversial risk management strategy developed to cope with possible risks where scientific understanding is yet incomplete. Viewed by some as the most innovative and significant new environmental concept in the last 25 years, the principle isn’t embraced by all. While some individuals and groups maintain that it’s “better safe than sorry,” others contend that the principle is a politically charged, oversimplification that blocks innovation.

“Should new technology be guilty until proven innocent or innocent until proven guilty when it comes to use in food and agriculture?” asks Leah Dorman, DVM, senior director of animal and food policy, Ohio Farm Bureau and co-chair of NIAA’s Annual Conference. “How animal agriculture deals with the impacts of the precautionary principle now and in the future will dictate how innovative and competitive U.S. agriculture will be in the global marketplace.”

The conference’s four Opening General Session and Closing General Session speakers on April 1 and 2 who will take an in-depth look at the precautionary principle as it relates to animal agriculture include:

·         Mark Walton, PhD, chief marketing officer for Recombinetics: “The Precautionary Principle—Turning Prejudice into Policy”

·         Ronald Stotish, PhD, president and chief executive officer of AquaBounty Technologies: “When Precaution Becomes Paralysis”

·         David Edwards, PhD, director, Animal Biotechnology: “Animal Biotechnology: Innovation Stifled by Inaction”

·         Marty Matlock, PhD, Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability, University of Arkansas: “Science-Based Metrics for Sustainable Outcomes in Agriculture”

Between the Opening General Session on Tuesday, April 1, and the Closing General Session on Wednesday, April 2, individuals attending NIAA’s Annual Conference are encouraged to participate in one or more of NIAA’s six species committee meetings and six issue council meetings. The committee meetings feature a variety of speakers from across the country who will share cutting-edge research relative to a specific committee.

“Committee and council meetings are where a diverse audience from the animal agriculture industry, including industry professionals, state and federal regulators and the research community, come together and learn from each other,” states conference co-chair Betsy Flores, vice president of animal care for the National Milk Producers Federation. “In addition to hearing information relative to a committee, attendees will develop solutions to animal health, animal care and food safety concerns in North America.”

An added bonus for those attending NIAA’s Annual Conference is the NIAA/USAHA Joint Forum on Trichomoniasis Standards that will be conducted on Thursday, April 3, the day following NIAA’s Annual Conference. Registration cost for both NIAA’s Annual Conference and the one-day Trichomoniasis Standards Forum is $450/person. NIAA members receive a $50 discount.

An optional Omaha Ag Tour will be conducted on Monday, March 31. The morning will be spent at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where participants will hear seven presentations on progressive research concepts in animal agriculture—everything from green eggs and ham to gene therapy and more. The afternoon includes a tour of Smithfield Farmland’s Crete, Neb., plant that processes approximately 10,400 hogs per day and a visit to Prairieland Dairy where the dairy’s 1,400 cows are bedded on sand, have daily massages and are treated to full buffets. The tour fee for this educational experience is just $85/person and includes motor coach transportation, lunch and refreshments.

To register or to learn more about NIAA’s “The Precautionary Principle – How Will Animal Agriculture Thrive” Annual Conference and/or the Joint Forum on Trichomoniasis Standards or the option Omaha Ag Tour, please go online to or call NIAA at 719-538-8843.