Our Annual Meeting is now a very pleasant memory of our time together in San Diego. As I write this first report to you as the President of the Society for In Vitro Biology, I think about how we will remember this meeting for the ‘breakthrough’ scientific presentations—those goals we’ve mentioned in optimistic grant applications and introductions to our manuscripts are now in our ‘tool kit’ for both animals and plants. Now we face the exciting challenge of which problems will be investigated and those that will be eventually commercialized. We also realize that some of our brothers and sisters do not necessarily share our level of excitement, confidence and comfort with our technology approach to improving the human condition.
I particularly enjoyed the many conversations, spirited debates and the listening both early and late during the days we spent together. I came away with several “take homes”. The common perception of in vitro animal biology research is more positive than that of plant biology because its use is often directed toward human health, which is a broadly shared positive concept. While In vitro plant biology, especially genetically modified organisms, has achieved the most rapid acceptance of any technology in history among direct consumers and producers of most commodity crop species it has aroused a more negative perception among some technology averse end-use consumers.
We share and discuss technical data that on balance clearly supports the quality and safety of GMO’s while we note that “organic” and “non-GMO” labels are placed on every possible food product in our groceries at a price premium compared to traditionally produced food products. Despite strong opinions about how we should respond, we must accept and embrace our individual right to choose what we consume. My wife and I volunteer for a food pantry on a regular basis and pick up donated food from our local Target store. I’ve noted that there is an excess of ‘organic’ salads and vegetables near the end of their safe consumption date compared to traditionally grown produce week after week. However, I would be the first to say that I’m not too confident of the significance of this single observation.
Our unique combination of plant and animal biology featured scientific progress that highlights our similarities more closely than ever before in our history. Several scientific advances discussed at our annual meeting illustrate the relevance of our technology to cutting edge science. I’m very pleased and encouraged that our graduate student/post doc members are active in our organization and have taken on a number of tasks on behalf of SIVB both during our meetings and during the year. In particular, the frequent discussions between our novice and experienced scientists are positive because it helps our society to remain responsive to the needs of our members and our challenge to maintain the strength and interest in SIVB.
In closing, I’d like to thank those who have volunteered to help with the numerous committees we have and also on behalf of our membership we thank Marietta Ellis and Michele Schultz whose experience and diligence benefit us every single day.
Dwight Tomes, Ph.D.
President, Society for In Vitro Biology