Marc van Montagu

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Marc van Montagu was one of the original pioneers of genetic engineering. There are essentially two ways to perform genetic engineering. The first one discovered, which utilizes a bacteria called Agrobacterium tumefaciens, was discovered more or less simultaneously by van Montagu - working together with Jeff Schell - and Mary-Dell Chilton. In the 1970's, all three became acquainted with Monsanto's Earnest Jaworski, who signed them on as Monsanto consultants. Monsanto funded their work, had access to their work, and ultimately hired its own team in 1981 (Robert B. Horsch, Stephen G. Rogers, and Robert T. Fraley) to compete with them in achieving and patenting genetic engineering processes. Van Montagu cut ties with Monsanto when he launched Plant Genetic Systems in 1983.[1]

"[Van Montagu's] laboratory raised two spin-offs, Plant Genetic Systems (PGS), and CropDesign. At PGS, he drove front-line innovations for biotech agriculture, such as plants resistant to insects or tolerant to more environmentally friendly herbicides.

In 2000 he created the Institute of Plant Biotechnology for Developing Countries (IPBO) at Ghent University. Its mission is training, technology transfer and plant biotechnology research oriented towards the needs of less-developed countries. He has received numerous outstanding awards for his pioneering work, including the prestigious “Japan Prize”. He is foreign associate of the National Academy of Science (USA) since 1986 and the Agricultural Academy of Russia and France, the Academy of Science of Italy and Belgium, the Academy of Engineering in Sweden, the Academy of Overseas Science in Belgium and of the Third World Academy."[2]

Van Montagu is chairman of University of Ghent's Institute of Plant Biotechnology for Developing Countries and a patron of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA).[3] He is also the President of the European Federation of Biotechnology (EFB) and of Public Research and Regulation Initiative (PRRI).[4]

Marc Van Montagu holds a Ph.D in Organic Chemistry/Biochemistry and earned a B.A. in Chemistry from Ghent University.[5]

Bio

"Marc Van Montagu was full Professor and director of the Laboratory of Genetics at the faculty of Sciences, Ghent University and scientific director of the Genetics Department of the Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB). He was a part-time professor at the biology, nucleic acid chemistry, and virology. He was Scientific Director and member of the board of Directors of Plant Genetic Systems Inc. (Belgium).
"Together with his colleague Prof. Jeff Schell, Marc Van Montagu discovered the gene transfer mechanism between Agrobacterium and plants, which resulted in the development of methods to alter Agrobacterium into an efficient delivery system for gene engineering in plants. He developed plant molecular genetics, in particular molecular mechanisms for cell proliferation and differentiation and response to abiotic stresses (high light, ozone, cold, salt and drought) and constructed transgenic crops (tobacco, rape seed, corn) resistant to insect pest and tolerant to novel herbicides. His work with poplar trees resulted in engineering of trees with improved pulping qualities.
"He has received numerous outstanding awards for his pioneering work, including the prestigious “Japan Prize”. He has been a foreign associate of the National Academy of Science (USA) since 1986 and the agricultural Academy of Russia and France. He holds 6 Doctor Honoris Causa Degrees. In 1990 he was granted the title of “Baron” by Baudouin 1, King of the Belgians."[6]


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References

  1. Daniel Charles, Lords of the Harvest: Biotech, Big Money, and the Future of Food, Praeger, 2001.
  2. Marc Van Montagu, BioVision, Accessed October 26, 2011.
  3. Institute of Plant Biotechnology for Developing Countries, Accessed October 26, 2011.
  4. Marc Van Montagu, BioVision, Accessed October 26, 2011.
  5. Marc Van Montagu, BioVision, Accessed October 26, 2011.
  6. Marc van Montagu, [[European Federation of Biotechnology]], Accessed October 26, 2011.

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