Invited keynote speakers

Ms. Louise Luttikholt (IFOAM-organics International)

Born and raised on a small farm in eastern Netherlands, is the Executive Director of IFOAM – Organics International. She has extensive experience in organic agriculture, fair trade and development cooperation at a strategic, management and regulatory level. Earlier she worked as the Director of HELVETAS Germany and Senior Advisor Sustainable Agriculture at HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation. Prior to this, she held various roles at Fairtrade International, Biologica and served at the board of ‘Stichting Zaadgoed’ in the Netherlands. She is grounded in the Principles of Organic Agriculture and was the driving force behind the articulation process of them. Louise wants to build the resilience of the organic sector, and see it reach out from a strong foundation to show wider audiences and stakeholders that organic agriculture is a means to help heal the world.

Title of presentation: Transforming food systems, transforming breeding

DR. Julie Dawson (University of Wisconsin, USA)

An Associate Professor in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Research interests include the use of genetic resources in plant breeding for organic systems and methods for participatory selection and variety development. Dawson is also the state extension specialist for urban and regional food systems and does applied research for growers serving local food markets. This includes vegetable variety trials, season extension, and reduced tillage methods for small-scale vegetable production. The Seed to Kitchen Collaborative works with plant breeders to test varieties with local farmers and chefs, focused on flavor for local food systems. Before arriving at UW Madison, Dawson worked on wheat breeding for organic systems with farmers in Washington, France and New York. 

 Presentation title draft:  Scaling up participation in breeding for flavor: engaging farmers, gardeners, culinary professionals and consumers


Micaela Colley leads Organic Seed Alliance’s collaborative research and education programs focused on cultivating seed skills, sharing seed knowledge, and collaborating on participatory plant breeding projects. She works to foster resilient, community seed systems regionally, nationally and internationally. Micaela is an advisor on the EU project LIVESEED and is pursuing a PhD focused on organic and participatory plant breeding with promotor Dr. Edith Lammerts van Bueren at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. She lives in Port Townsend, Washington, where she engages in the organizations works on the ground at the NW research farm of OSA. In her spare time, she enjoys rowing, gardening, and cooking with her chef husband and two energetic children. 

Title of presentationThe ripple effect of participatory plant breeding: a case study in US organic sweet corn 


Gabriele Berg studied biology, ecology and biotechnology at the universities in Rostock and Greifswald obtained her Ph.D. in 1995 in microbiology from Rostock University (Germany). In 2005 she became a full professor in environmental biotechnology at Graz University of Technology (Austria). Her interests are focused on research of host-associated microbiomes and translation of the results into new biotechnological concepts for our environment as well as for holobiont health. In 2018 and 2019, she belongs to the most influential researchers world-wide (top 1, Clarivate Analytics).

Title of presentation: Understanding the microbial word within seeds


CEO and Co-Founder of SeedLinked, an emerging collaborative data sharing platform that connects people and data to help characterize, breed, source, and harvest the best. Originated from France, Nicolas brings a broad vision and passion for what is possible in the seed industry founded in his years of private sector plant breeding in seed companies in Europe and the United States. He has a master’s degree in agronomy from EI Purpan France and a PhD from Colorado State University in plant breeding.  His expertise in data architecture, crop modeling, fundamental breeding techniques and participatory breeding strategies coupled with management and plant breeding program development find full expression in his continuing work and development of SeedLinked. “I am inspired by the passion, depth, and engagement exhibited by the people driving this emerging seed movement. When ethics and actions align there is a generated energy that is empowering in ways that push me to do what I might otherwise see as impossible.” Outside of work, I love riding my bike, fly fish, and ski in the Driftless region of Upper Midwest, USA, where I currently live.  Nico will present the overall concept of SeedLinked, current features and road map giving a focus logistics, adoption, user experience and his challenging journey toward simplification and maximum engagement.

Title of presentation: Simplify collaboration, amplify results: facilitating a diverse seed system with a collaborative digital platform


Susanne has long-standing experience in working with various socio-economic aspects of agriculture, both in the UK and in Europe, including projects on organic markets and consumers, conversion, farm management, policy support, regulation and certification. She was a member of the LIVESDEED consortium until May 2019, working the Organic Research Centre in the UK. Since June 2019, Susanne works at the Thünen Institute for Farm Economics in Braunschweig, Germany, on the topic of women in agriculture.

Tite of presentation: Organic seeds and varieties: can the market deliver? 

Sandra Goritschnig, PhD 
(ECPGR. Rome, Italy)

A plant geneticist by training, Sandra Goritschnig is a Scientific Officer at the Secretariat of the European Cooperative Programme for Plant Genetic Resources (ECPGR) in Rome, Italy, where she coordinates the European Evaluation Network EVA, a Pan-European project aimed at generating knowledge on crop accessions conserved in European genebanks and involving a variety of stakeholders in public-private partnerships. She serves on the external advisory board of the BRESOV project and manages the new open access journal “Genetic Resources”.

Tite of presentation: EVA - European Evaluation Networks harnessing crop genetic diversity present in European genebanks


Eric joined IFOAM Organics Europe as Deputy Director and Policy Manager in 2014. He manages advocacy on the CAP, food policy, climate change, plant health, GMOs, and seeds. Previously he worked for the European Parliament, Greenpeace, or Citizens’ Sciences on the participation of civil society in research policy and projects.

Tite of presentation: New rules on seeds in the new EU organic regulation


Dr. Amritbir Riar is a Senior Scientist at FiBL,

where he leads 'Resilient Cropping Systems' group in the Department of International Cooperation. He is a farming systems research and development expert. His expertise is also well recognized in agronomy, participatory research, plant breeding, agricultural extension and rural farming sociology.

 Current research activities are focused on the interphase of agriculture, environment and society using participatory and agroecological approaches. Transdisciplinary is an inherent feature in all on-going projects, engaging with multiple stakeholders including farmers, farmworkers, consumers, traders, agri-value chains, industry, trainers, extensionists, researchers, and policymakers.

His contribution to the field of agriculture research and development is well recognized.  Australian prestigious award 'John Allwright Research Fellow' for his doctoral work on N and water co-limitation", ‘2019 SFIAR Team Award' for Long-term farming systems comparisons in the tropics (SysCom) project and 'Distinguished Scientist Award 2020' for his contribution to participatory plant breeding in India. Based upon his contribution in the organic cotton field, a policy brief entitled "Long-term sustainability of cotton-based farming systems in India: An evidence-based objective brief for policy interventions." was released during a pre-conference of IFOAM  19th Organic World Congress, 9-11 November 2017 in New Delhi, India.

Tite of presentation: Participatory organic cotton breeding approach to achieve sustainable development goals