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Dr. Channapatna S. Prakash
Professor, Plant Molecular Genetics
Tuskegee University, Alabama, USA

Dr. C. S. Prakash is a professor of plant genetics, biotechnology and genomics at Tuskegee University (USA) where he has been on faculty since 1989. He oversees the genetic improvement research on food crops of importance to developing countries and has trained dozens of scientists and students. He has also been actively involved in enhancing the societal awareness of food biotechnology issues around the world. He has funded projects on peanut genomic research from USAID/Zambia; serves in the USAID Agricultural Innovation Partnership project to enhance agricultural innovation in India in partnership with Cornell University; and, partners with UCLA in an innovative distance learning program on genetics through interactive live video including lecturing in an online course. Dr. Prakash also serves as Editor-in-chief of the journal GM Crops.

Dr. Prakash has earlier served on the USDA's Agricultural Biotechnology Advisory Committee under Mr. Dan Glickman (Agricultural secretary in Clinton Cabinet) and the Advisory Committee for the Department of Biotechnology for the government of India. Dr. Prakash has been instrumental in catalyzing the scientific community in many countries to be more proactive in the biotechnology debate. He is a popular speaker who has delivered hundreds of lectures at many major universities across USA (Harvard, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Purdue, Cornell) and also lectured at dozens of countries including many high-profile institutions such as Aspen Ideas Festival, United Nations, Vatican, National Governors’ Association, FAO, U. S. Congress, USDA, US Trade Office, World Ag Forum, World Food Prize Symposium, NAACP, CORE and Pugwash.

He delivered the E. T. York Distinguished Lecture at Auburn University (2000) and the Julian Simon Lecture at Liberty Institute (’03). He has delivered invited lectures at many scientific society meetings including AAAS, American Medical Association, BIO, American Chemical Society and American Society of Plant Biology. His commentaries, interviews and opinions have appeared in hundreds of newspapers and magazines across the globe. He has been featured in dozens of radio and TV programs (BBC TV, CBC, China Radio Guardian, Time, Wall Street Journal, Vatican Radio, Financial Times, IHT, Science, Nature etc.) including ABC’s 20/20 with John Stossel, NPR’s Science Friday by Ira Flatow, NPR’s Talk of the Nation by Juan Williams, UK’s Channel 4 documentary “Rise and Fall of GM” , You Tube, and in the documentary “History's Harvest: Where Food Comes From” from the American Society of Plant Biologists.

In 2002, Governor Tom Vilsack of Iowa (now the Ag secretary under President Obama) and Gov. Mike Johanns of Nebraska invited Dr. Prakash to deliver a luncheon speech at the National Governors Association conference. In 2003, Ag Secretary Ann M. Veneman (now head of UNICEF) invited Dr. Prakash to speak at the international Ministerial Conference on Agricultural Science and Technology in Sacramento, California where he addressed ministers of agriculture from 120 countries. Subsequently, Veneman and U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick (now head of World Bank) invited Dr. Prakash to address a press conference in Washington to mark a landmark suit filed by US in the WTO against EU for it’s moratorium on GM crops. Dr. Prakash has served as an expert speaker for the US State Department and USDA to speak on agbiotech issues at more than forty countries. India’s Jairam Ramesh (now minister of rural affairs; earlier minister of environment) has sought Dr. Prakash’s assistance in the development of biotechnology in Karnataka. Dr. Prakash will soon lead a panel discussion in an international meeting in Marrakech (Morocco; May 2012) on biotechnology in US and the Moslem world countries.

Dr. Norman Borlaug has frequently commended Dr. Prakash’s efforts, and also visited Tuskegee University; Dr. Prakash has championed Dr. Borlaug’s life and career, and helped celebrate Dr. Borlaug’s 90th birthday where many notable individuals such as Jimmy Carter, Tony Blair, Kofi Annan, and George McGovern responded to Dr. Prakash’s request by sending personal greetings and messages marking Dr. Borlaug’s birthday.  When Dr. Borlaug was awarded the congressional gold medal by President Bush, speaker Nancy Pelosi invited Dr. Prakash as a guest for the event at the US Capitol. Senator Christopher ‘Kit’ Bond also has acknowledged Dr. Prakash’s initiatives in biotechnology during a senate floor discussion and placed his op-ed column from the Atlanta Journal Constitution on gobal hunger on the US congressional record. Prakash was also among the distinguished scholars and scientists by Pontifical Academy of Science in the Vatican to deliberate on the issue of transgenic crops. He has also conducted training programs in biotech communication in dozens of countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Dr. Prakash's website www.agbioworld.org has become an important portal disseminating information and promoting discussion in agbiotech issues among stakeholders such as scientists, policy makers, activists and journalists. His declaration in support of agricultural biotechnology was signed on by nearly 4000 scientists including 25 Nobel laureates. Through social networking sites Twitter and Facebook,  and newsletter AgBioView (which has been read by 5000 subscribers since 1999 and with over 2500 issues) along with running many online discussion groups on agbiotech in Africa and India, he is widely recognized as a pundit on GMO topic because of his broad focus on technical, societal and ethical issues. 

Dr. Prakash’s contribution to agricultural biotechnology outreach was recognized by the magazine Progressive Farmer who awarded him the ‘Man of the Year’ award ‘in service to Alabama Agriculture’. He was named one of a dozen ‘pioneers, visionaries and innovators behind the progress and promise of plant biotechnology’ by the Council for Biotechnology Information. He was chosen by his peers as among the "100 Top Living Contributors to Biotechnology" (October 2005) while the prestigious 'Nature' magazine readers' short listed him for "Who's who in biotech -  some of biotech's most remarkable and influential personalities from the past 10 years" (March 2006). He has won the faculty performance award at Tuskegee University (1994) and a plaque from U. S. Environmental Protection Agency. He also has received a Commemorative Award from the President of Zambia, His Excellency Honorable Rupiah Banda (2010).

Dr. Prakash has a bachelor's degree in agriculture and masters in genetics from India, and obtained his Ph.D. in forestry/genetics from the Australian National University, Canberra. His research interests include studies on transgenic plants, gene expression, tissue culture and plant genomics. Dr. Prakash's group at TU led the development and biosafety testing oof transgenic sweetpotato plants,  establishment of biosafety guidelines in Ghana, was first to identify polymorphic DNA markers in peanut and pioneered the development of genetic map of cultivated peanut.  His papers, especially on peanut genetic markers, are among the highest cited from Tuskegee University.  Dr. Prakash also serves on the editorial board of AgBioForum, The Journal of New Seeds, Indian Journal of Biotechnology, Electronic Journal of Sustainable Development, Food Biotechnology, and the Journal of Plant Biochemistry and Biotechnology. He also also serves on the scientific advisory board of American Council on Science and Health (NY), BioScience Policy Institute (New Zealand), Lifeboat Foundation, Policy Network (UK) and Life Science Foundation India.  Dr. Prakash has earlier served as a panel manager for the USDA’s biotechnology risk assessment grant program, chaired the minority affairs committee of the American Society for Plant Biology, served on the review panel to evaluate USAID's "Initiative to End Hunger in Africa" Program, panelist on “Leveraging University Research for Industrial Competitiveness and Growth” report from Penn State and National Science Foundation and continues to serve on grant review panels of several federal agencies.

C. S. Prakash, Ph.D.
Professor, Plant Genetics, Genomics and Biotechnology
College of Agricultural, Environmental and Nutrition Sciences
Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, AL 36088 USA