G-8 ag leaders set to meet and open data to the world

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With a goal of uniting scientific activities across borders to feed the world, agricultural leaders from the G-8 countries will begin a two-day conference in Washington on Monday. G-8 leaders will meet to discuss the challenges and develop policies for online global platforms to share data from publicly funded agricultural research. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will head the United States government delegation and USDA's Chief Scientist, Catherine Woteki, Ph.D., will act as alternate head of delegation and provide scientific guidance.

"The Obama Administration is committed to opening data to the public and the research community," said Vilsack. "Open data for agriculture offers unlimited opportunity both at home and abroad. We've seen it drive economic growth in the past through the development of navigation systems, weather forecasting and other tools that were revolutionary when created, but that consumers now take for granted. Sharing data will do the same for facing the enormous challenges of reducing poverty, improving nutrition, and sustainably intensifying agricultural production to meet the demand of feeding nine billion people by 2050."

Highlights of the conference include:

  • Remarks by Secretary Vilsack to open the first day of the meeting;
  • Video remarks by Bill Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation;
  • Panel discussions including participants such as Rachel Kyte, Ph.D., VP, World Bank and Todd Park, White House Chief Technology Officer;
  • Lightning presentations by developers of apps currently in use for agricultural production;
  • Presentations by key agricultural scientists on the technical details of governments opening data to the public, implications for developing countries and best practices.
  • Announcements of new open data releases from government and private sector.

The range of presenters and attendees cover the spectrum of leadership from government and industry. Howard Shapiro, Global Director of Plant Science and External Research, Mars Incorporated will be a lightning presenter, as will Shaifali Puri, from Scientists without Borders, a public-private partnership led by The New York Academy of Sciences. Conference attendees will hear from representatives of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the Global Harvest Initiative, Johns Hopkins University and top officials from federal agencies including the Department of Commerce, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Millennium Challenge Corporation and others.

Each day of the conference will include announcements from the G-8 countries and the U.S. government representatives about the data they are releasing.

"Taking data that taxpayers have already funded and making it public in useable formats will fuel economic growth and help drive the agricultural innovation needed to meet our global food security challenges," said Woteki. "We will provide a one-stop shop for all of our public agriculturally relevant data that can be used by entrepreneurs, scientists and agricultural leaders to build applications, conduct analyses, and perform research. This is the first step into a new, 21st century arena of accelerating agricultural research."

To hear a preview of the topics to be discussed during the conference click here. The U.S. delegation to the G-8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture will fulfill the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition commitment made by President Obama and G8 leaders at the Camp David summit a year ago.

For more information on the conference, please visit the conference website or e-mail G8AGOPENDATA@osec.usda.gov. Watch the conference through a live web feed here, follow or contribute to the discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #OpenAgData

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