The conference will focus on the critical role science and technology can play in raising agricultural productivity in developing countries in an environmentally sustainable way to alleviate world hunger and poverty.

“We want to bring countries together to launch a major new front in the battle against global hunger and poverty,” Veneman said during a briefing with reporters. “This conference offers policymakers in developing countries a unique opportunity to focus on what science and technology can do for their farmers, their consumers and their countries.”

The secretary said existing and emerging technologies in food and agriculture “can help feed the hungry, improve nutrition, raise living standards and narrow the gap between the haves and have-nots, while protecting the environment for future generations.”

Ministers will have the opportunity to see first hand an array of exhibits and product demonstrations including conventional to cutting-edge technologies geared to small-scale and large-scale enterprises, with applications throughout the food chain.

Sacramento was chosen as the site for the conference because of its agricultural diversity, and because the region has a very strong agricultural research base with start-up and emerging technologies nearby and an academic base at the University of California at Davis.

Veneman will deliver the keynote address opening the conference on Monday morning and participate in bilateral and regional meetings. Veneman will meet with ministerial delegations from about a dozen countries, in addition to an Africa regional group and a Western Hemisphere group.

The U.S. State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development are cosponsoring the conference with USDA. Veneman first announced plans for a science and technology conference last June in Rome at the World Food Summit: Five Years Later.

“This conference will provide a forum to identify needs, share ideas and discuss policies, partnerships and strategies to accelerate technology transfer and local research and development to boost agricultural productivity,” she said. “For developing countries, a more productive agriculture can be a springboard not only to greater food security, but to a more productive economy that lifts people out of poverty.”

Conference sessions will address access to technologies, new scientific research, the relationship between regulation and innovation, the role of economic and trade policies, and the creation of partnerships to help developing countries adopt productivity-enhancing, environmentally sustainable technologies.

Featured speakers at the conference will include leaders and technical experts from developing and developed countries. International organizations, universities, research centers and nongovernmental organizations will also be represented.

Additional information about the conference is available on the Foreign Agricultural Service website at http://www.fas.usda.gov/.

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com