By Jim Stafford
Copyright © 2015, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
Years ago, I wandered through the fantastic maze that is the annual Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) convention and discovered a long row of corn as high as an elephant’s eye. It was growing inside a giant convention hall in a city like Philadelphia.
Racing back to the Oklahoma exhibition booth at the show, I asked Steve Rhines, vice president and general counsel for The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, based in Ardmore, to come see this agricultural exhibit with me on the floor of the world’s largest biotechnology exhibition and educational show.
Rhines was more than happy to view the exhibit and even posed for a photo in front of the corn stalks. We discussed the potential that the corn offered people — and livestock — worldwide.
It was prime evidence that the annual BIO show isn’t just for life sciences. Agriculture plays a major role in advances in biotechnology.
In Oklahoma, the Noble Foundation is among the state’s leading entities for developing new varieties of plants that benefit both livestock and people.
Annually, the Noble Foundation has had a presence among the group of about 80 people who showcase Oklahoma to the world through the OKBio booth on the floor of the BIO show
This year, Jeff Moen, Noble’s director of business development, will be among those greeting visitors to the Oklahoma booth at the BIO show in Philadelphia on June 15-18.
Moen attended last year’s show in San Diego, so he already knows how overwhelming it can be.
“We’re just excited to get out to this year’s conference and share with everyone the impact of biotechnology on the agricultural industry and the benefits that biotechnology has not only to agricultural producers but all consumers,” Moen said.
“We are all consumers of agricultural products, and biotechnology is important if we are going to continue to feed our expanding global population.”
The Noble Foundation employs about a hundred Ph.D. scientists working to develop new crops — through traditional plant breeding and genetic modification — that are more nutritious for livestock and hardy enough to grow in arid climates.
For the group of Oklahomans who pitch our state as a welcoming hotbed of biotechnology research, the excitement generated by the OKBio booth is infectious.
Oklahoma’s area of biotechnology research stretches across a large portion of the state, from Ardmore in the south through Oklahoma City and to Stillwater, Tulsa and beyond in the northeast.
“It’s so exciting to see all of us pulling together from the various scientific focuses coming together to promote all the great science we are producing here in the state of Oklahoma,” Moen said.
“And to tell our story to the rest of the world.”
After all, we are the state where corn grows as high as an elephant’s eye.
Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein said so.
Jim Stafford writes about the state’s life sciences industry on behalf of the Oklahoma Bioscience Association.