AMES, Iowa — Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack has been named a Distinguished Fellow in Iowa State University's Biosafety Institute for Genetically Modified Agricultural Products.
"Governor Vilsack's expertise in issues relating to public policy and science will greatly enhance the work of our institute," said Iowa State University 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 Governor Vilsack's contributions in public policy and in teaching and mentoring our students on public service," said Wendy Wintersteen, dean of ISU's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Manjit Misra, director of the Biosafety Institute for Genetically Modified Agricultural Products, or BIGMAP, said 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.
"Governor Vilsack will represent BIGMAP at national and international conferences, as well as campus events organized by the institute," said 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.
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 and 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 the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State develops tools and methodologies to analyze the 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 the institute communicate the results of these activities to key policy and regulatory groups, private entities and the public.