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Michiel van Lookeren Campagne

Former Head of Biology Research, Syngenta

Expert Bio

Michiel van Lookeren Campagne received his MSc in Biology, followed by a PhD in Developmental Biology from Leiden University in the Netherlands for studying the development of cellular slime molds. He then spent five years in New York, USA starting as post-doc and ending as Assistant Professor at Columbia University working on signal transduction in cancer.

In 1993 he returned to the Netherlands, where he started working on plant development at Plant Research International in Wageningen. In 1999 he moved to industry and joined Aventis CropScience (now Bayer) starting as Team Leader Reproductive Biology, and ending as Head of Research for Bayer - BioScience.

In 2009 Michiel joined Syngenta as Head of Biotechnology, based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA. In 2014 he was appointed Head Biology Research for Syngenta, based in RTP.

Studies, Articles and Answers

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Q: Can someone explain to me how gmo companies can make fraudulent claims that eating golden rice will cure blindness in many developing countries and not be attacked or shut down by the fda?

Answered By Michiel van Lookeren Campagne - May 08, 2015

A: As the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) explains, “Worldwide, 125 million children — particularly those in developing countries — suffer from vitamin A deficiency (VAD), causing blindness (up to 500,000 per year according to the World Health Organization) and death. An additional one million people die annually due to vitamin A deficiency and malnutrition. In many of these same countries, rice is the food staple and may provide 80% or more of daily calories. Polished, white rice — the most consumed form of rice — contains no beta-carotene or other for [...]

GMO Basics Health & Safety


Q: How many CEOs and other Executives among the leading GMO producing corporations actually eat GMO food? This is not a yes or no question and it is not suitable to refer me to the FAQ or other questions similar as I have reviewed them. In short, how many

Answered By Ponsi Trivisvavet - Jun 05, 2015

A: Genetic engineering is an important process for breeding crops that are safe and provide important benefits for farmers and consumers around the world. I have personally been involved in this business for many years and have seen the success that both farmers in the U.S. and smallholder farmers in emerging nations are having with these crops. Since the first plantings in 1996, more than 4 billion acres of biotech crops have been successfully cultivated. In 2014 alone, biotech crops were planted in 28 countries by 18 million farmers, according to the International Service for the Acquisition o [...]

Answered By Jodi Cohen - Jun 05, 2015

A: Thank you for your question. Our CEOs and executives are proud to eat food with ingredients derived from GMOs and serve it to their families. This is because they know that foods produced in whole or in part with biotechnology are as safe and nutritious as the same foods produced conventionally. In fact, the FDA has determined that “…there is no significant difference between foods produced using bio-engineering, as a class, and their conventional counterparts.”   “GM crops are extensively reviewed by governments and scientific experts to make sure they are saf [...]

Answered By Michiel van Lookeren Campagne - May 22, 2015

A: As a molecular biologist working in industry, I have a passion for innovation that enables us to grow more food more with less inputs. I come to work every day to try and help bring breakthrough innovations into the hands of growers around the world that enable the sustainable intensification of their farms.   As a human being, I am also interested in contributing to making the world a better place, in which my children and my children’s children will have a future. For me this means that I should live a life that is congruent to those ideals. I personally believe that if we are [...]



Q: why can not plant be genetically enginnered like insulin production in bacteria?

Answered By Michiel van Lookeren Campagne - Oct 09, 2015

A: In principle - and at a high abstract level - there is no difference between using genetic engineering within a bacteria or a plant. Traditionally, proteins from eukaryotic organisms that require secondary modifications, such a sulfur bridges, glycosylation, etc., are difficult to make in bacteria. The pharmaceutical and industrial biotech industries are using other (eukaryotic) production system to overcome these limitations, such as yeast and Chinese Hamster Ovary cells, for example.   Insulin can be produced in plants; however the advantages of producing human insulin in plants over [...]

GMO Basics How GMOs Are Made


Q: who need more gmos, the people or industry?

Answered By Michiel van Lookeren Campagne - Sep 04, 2015

A: In the agriculture industry, our customers are farmers. We innovate to provide solutions for unmet farmer needs. The most important farmer need is yield, as that translates directly into revenue for the farmer.    As for any business, the grower wants to maximize revenue and reduce costs. Farm profitability is the balance between investment in maximizing yield through the adoption of novel seed varieties, fertilizer, crop protection chemicals, fertilizer and enhanced agronomic practices, and the price he/she gets for the crop. As an industry, we provide farmers with innovations th [...]

Answered By Dr. Stuart Smyth - Oct 07, 2015

A:   GMOs benefit everyone, consumers, farmers and the companies that produce them. I’ve included a table that identifies how the benefits are estimated to be distributed between the three different groups, for each of the four main crops that are GM.      Crop     Farmer benefits     Company benefits     Consumer benefits       Canola     43% [...]

Business Practices GMOs & Farmers Other