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Rob Bertram

Chief Scientist in USAID’s Bureau for Food Security

Expert Bio

Rob Bertram is the Chief Scientist in USAID’s Bureau for Food Security, where he serves as a key adviser on a range of technical and program issues to advance global food security and nutrition. In this role, he leads USAID’s evidence-based efforts to advance research, technology and implementation in support of the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future.

He previously served as Director of the Office of Agricultural Research and Policy in the Bureau for Food Security, which leads implementation of the Feed the Future research strategy and related efforts to scale innovations in global food security efforts, working with a range of partners. Prior to that, he guided USAID investments in agriculture and natural resources research for many years.

Dr. Bertram’s academic background in plant breeding and genetics includes degrees from University of California, Davis, the University of Minnesota and the University of Maryland. He also studied international affairs at Georgetown University and was a visiting scientist at Washington University in St. Louis. He has been especially active in plant genetic resources policy as it relates to research for development, including applications of biotechnology in food security-related research.

Before coming to USAID, he served with USDA's international programs as well as overseas with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) system.

Studies, Articles and Answers

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Q: In your opinion, are GMO essential for worldwide food security not just the U.S.?

Answered By Rob Bertram - Aug 17, 2015

A: This is the most asked question about the use of GMOs, or genetically engineered (GE) crops, in international development; however, it is a loaded one that cannot be answered “yes or no” without consideration of related factors.    First off, “what” is considered a GE crop or GMO is becoming fuzzier by the year. While the last twenty years of commercialization have focused on GE crops with gene insertions that, in turn, create new proteins and give plants beneficial characteristics, new gene editing technologies are making the situation more complex. Targeted gene editing, gene [...]