Eduard Fito was elected President of ISF in 2018, serving a two-year term.
He was born in Barcelona and studied Agricultural Engineering at the University of Catalonia. He earned his Master’s degree in Agronomy at the University of Lleida, and attended business programs at the IESE Business School in Barcelona.
Eduard comes from generations of seed professionals. In 1994, he joined his family company Semillas Fitó in the seed production department and later in the research and development (R&D) department as plant breeder. After having taken different positions at Semillas Fitó, he became its director of business development and corporate affairs in 2012.
He is active in the seed industry as a member of the board of ANOVE, the Spanish seed association and a member of the board of the Anti-Infringement Bureau.
He is married with two children, and loves hiking, playing music (guitar), and photography.
Michael Keller was appointed Secretary General of the International Seed Federation in June 2014.
Michael, a German national, lived and worked in Paris for 18 years before relocating to Switzerland to join the International Seed Federation in Nyon.
After graduating from the Universities of Manheim and Bonn where he completed a Law State examination, Michael pursued post-graduate studies at the Paris-Sorbonne University.
In 1999 Michael joined the French Senate in Paris as a Parliamentary Advisor and moved to the Mayor’s Association of France where, as Head of European and International Affairs, he represented his constituents’ interests at European level.
Between 2008 and 2014 Michael held the post of Director of Regulatory and Public Affairs at DuPont Pioneer in France. During the same period Michael was a member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee at the Union Française des Semenciers (UFS) and Chairman of the UFS Regulation and Innovation Commission.
Lorena is Argentinian based in Buenos Aires where BASSO SEMILLAS headquarters, a family company, is located
In 2000 she joined the family company being in charge of the commercial area. In 2011 she became president of Basso Semillas position that her father Carlos had for many years.
Having a strong commitment with the industry, Lorena is the first woman president of the Argentinian association ( ASA ); the same position in the regional Association SAA since last December.
Marco van Leeuwen is Managing Director of Rijk Zwaan, a position he has held for the last 11 years. His areas of interest include commercial affairs, seed production and logistics. He is an alumni of IESE Business School.
After his agricultural business management study in 1993, Marco started working for Dutch vegetable seed breeding company Rijk Zwaan. Since then he has held several roles related to seed operations, marketing & sales before he was appointed as Managing Director in 2009. In this position, Marco wants to contribute towards sustainable global food production and food security with healthy vegetables.
Next to his role in Rijk Zwaan, Marco holds several (board) positions in the seed industry.
Arnaud Petit was appointed Executive Director of the International Grains Council (IGC) in February 2018. IGC is an intergovernmental organisation based in London offering independent analysis on grains, oilseeds and rice markets to its member governments to promote international trade in grains. It also provides information to non-government subscribers.
IGC provides an important international platform for discussions between policy makers and the private sector. It also serves as the Secretariat for the Food Assistance Committee helping to facilitate networking within the donor community to improve the efficacy of food assistance.
From 2005- 2017 Mr. Petit was the Director for Commodities and Trade at the European Farmers and agri-cooperatives Union (Copa-Cogeca). He was also a Member of the Executive Committee of the European Technology Platform “Plants for the future” (2009-2017) and a Member of the Experts Group on EU-US trade negotiations at the European Commission (2014-2017).
From 2000 -2005 he served as Policy Advisor for European Affairs at the National Chamber for Agriculture in Paris, and Deputy Member of the European Economic and Social Committee (2000-2005).
He holds an M.A. in Agricultural Economics from the International Center for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies, Montpellier – France.
Louise O. Fresco is the President of the Executive Board of Wageningen University & Research in The Netherlands. Louise combines a long academic career as a professor at Wageningen and other institutions with an extensive involvement in policy and development, with many programs in Africa, Asia and Latin America and teaching in Sweden, Belgium and the US.
Louise O. Fresco is a member of eight Scientific Academies and holds four honorary doctorates. Ten years of her career were spent at the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN.
She is a non-Executive Director on the board of Syngenta as well as of various philanthropies while previously she served on the supervisory boards of companies like Rabobank and Unilever and at the board of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Her successful book “Hamburgers in Paradise, the stories behind the food we eat” was translated in several languages. In total she published thirteen books of fiction and non-fiction, and she also writes a bi-weekly column in NRC, the leading evening paper of The Netherlands. She presented a six part documentary on food and development for Dutch public television (to be found in translation on her website www.louiseofresco.com). You may have seen her TED talk in Palm Springs in 2009.
Born in Calahorra (La Rioja), Spain on March 3, 1956.
Education: Agricultural Engineering by the Universidad Politécnica of Madrid
Experience: 20 years as a member of the Board of Directors of APROSE 20 years as a member of the Vegetable & Ornamental Crop Section of ISF Nowadays, President of the company Ramiro Arnedo, SA (Calahorra, La Rioja – Spain) and President of ANOVE since 8 years ago
Ramiro Arnedo S.A. was founded over 75 years ago by the father of the current President of the company, Mr. Ramiro Arnedo Eguizábal. It is a company dedicated to the research, production and distribution of vegetable seeds.
Anove represents the plant breeding industry in Spain, promoting the defence of its interests and the awareness of its activity, supporting the innovation and development of agriculture. Members of ANOVE: 55 Companies and 3 Public Research Centres.
Vicente has been working as Senior Vice President of Global Vegetable Seeds of BASF SE since April 2019. Prior to his current role, Vicente held several leadership positions in Marketing & Sales and Strategy at Bayer Crop Science. Vicente also worked overseas as Managing Director Operations and in staff functions based in Parma, United States.
Vicente holds a master’s degree in agronomy from Universidad Politecnica de Valencia, Spain. He is actively involved in several seed industry associations. He was chairman of the Vegetable Section of ANOVE and is the chairman of the Vegetable & Ornamental section of the International Seed Federation and member of the Board. In addition, he is member of the Euroseeds Board.
Vicente is married and has three children. He has a passion for fishing, reading, gardening and history.
Dr. De Jager is president of the World Farmers’ Organisation and former president of the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU, 2013-2018) and of the Pan African Farmers Union (PAFO, 2014-2017). He is also chairman of the board of Agri All Africa, a board member of FANRPAN and serves on the board of Agri Limpopo, where he is responsible for land reform, transformation, farmer development and Africa Liaison since 2004.
He has farmed in South Africa since 1997 (in the South African Lowveld region) with timber and subtropical fruits (avocados, mangoes and macadamia nuts) and also keeps goats.
Dr. Usha Barwale Zehr is Director and Chief Technology Officer at Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company Private Limited (MAHYCO), and Executive Director of Grow Indigo, India.
She has been serving the small holder farmers for the last 21 years utilizing new technologies and tools including biotechnology for improving the quality and productivity of seeds.
In addition, Dr. Zehr serves as Director of Barwale Foundation (a non-profit Research Foundation).
She also serves on the Board of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa.
Neal Gutterson, Ph.D., Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for Corteva AgriscienceTM, is responsible for leading the organization in finding bold, innovative solutions that enrich the lives of those who produce and those who consume.
In his role, Neal and his leadership team oversee a single, unified R&D organization focused on seeds and traits, crop protection, and predictive agriculture functions to design, discover and develop innovations that create value for farmers and deliver consumer benefits in planet-friendly ways. He and his team have designed an organization that innovates to deliver today’s products as well as enable realization of a vision of the future of farming.
Through a series of progressively more senior research and development roles, Neal built his career at biotechnology start-up companies, including Advanced Genetic Sciences and DNA Plant Technology Corporation. Prior to joining DuPont Pioneer in 2014, he was president, chief executive officer and board member of Mendel Biotechnology. He also served on the CIMMYT Board of Trustees as program committee chair.
Neal holds a Bachelor of Science in chemistry from Yale University and a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, and is named inventor on more than 30 patents and pending patent applications.
Dr. Arnold Puech d’Alissac is Board Member and Treasurer of the World Farmers’ Organisation.
He has been covering different roles of representation of farmers at European level, being President of the European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA) between 1999 and 2001; and currently being member of the European Economic and Social Committee.
At National Level, in France, he is Member of the Bureau of the Fédération Nationale des Syndicats d’Exploitants Agricoles ,FNSEA, in charge of International and European policies, and President of the FNSEA Food Chain Commission. He is also engaged at local level, being President of the FRSEA (Regional Farmers Union) Normandie and 1st Vice-President of the Regional Chamber of Agriculture – Normandie.
Since 1992, he owns a farm with his family in Pissy-Pôville, outside of Rouen, where they produce and sell free-range poultry, raise beef cattle and grow various crops such as wheat, barley, rapeseed, corn and flax.
Jeff Rowe joined Syngenta in 2016 as President Syngenta Seeds. He is a member of the Syngenta Group Leadership Team which is responsible for the active leadership and operations of the Syngenta Group.
Prior to joining Syngenta, Jeff was Vice President, Strategic Services and Planning at DuPont Pioneer and was a member of the company’s Leadership Team. Before, he was Regional Director for DuPont Pioneer Europe, Vice President Biotech Affairs and Regulatory, and Corporate Counsel. Jeff started his career with Pioneer in 1995 in Supply Management.
He has a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics from the Iowa State University, a Juris Doctorate from Drake Law School, and a Global Executive MBA from the NYU Stern School of Business and the London School of Economics.
Jeff is from a row crop and livestock farm in Illinois where his family has been farming for more than five generations.
Francine Sayoc joined the International Seed Federation in April 2019. Her 15 years as a communications professional spans both public and private sectors.
Her role at ISF is to support the organization’s key strategic objectives and to help the seed sector tell its story to the most relevant stakeholders which include policymakers, partners in the agricultural value chain, as well as its own members composed of national seed associations and seed companies.
Previously, Francine was Group Communications Manager of East-West Seed, a vegetable seed company based in Asia whose main clients are smallholder farmers in the tropics. Prior to that, she served as Media and Communications Director for a member of the Philippine Senate, where she gained firsthand knowledge in the most effective means of shaping policy and reforms: legislation, institution-building, and partnerships.
Francine has a background in Journalism, and a Master’s degree in International Studies obtained through a scholarship from the government of Spain.
Beth Bechdol is Deputy Director-General at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). In this role, she continues her service to food and agriculture – now on a global scale. Ms Bechdol is responsible for overseeing FAO’s technical cooperation and programme support, including resource mobilization, partnerships, South-South and Triangular Cooperation, as well as leading programmes in the area of plant protection and production.
Before joining FAO, Ms Bechdol was President and CEO of AgriNovus Indiana, the Midwestern state’s economic development initiative focused on advancing the agbioscience sector and developing 21st century talent. Prior to her leadership of AgriNovus, Ms Bechdol was Director of agribusiness strategies at Indianapolis-based law firm Ice Miller LLP where she helped build the firm’s dedicated legal practice to food and agribusiness clients. She also was the former Deputy Director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture.
Ms Bechdol’s dedication to public service in agriculture and her extensive trade and farm policy experience started in Washington, D.C. where she served in key roles as Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and as Economist on the Senate Agriculture Committee.
She began her career in the Washington office of Informa Economics. As the first female Vice President in the firm, she assisted clients in understanding critical food and agriculture issues such as global trade negotiations, federal farm policy, technology advancements, farm structure, risk management tools, among other major trends. She also provided market information expertise to several international development projects in Egypt, the Republic of North Macedonia and Ukraine.
Ms Bechdol excels at building unconventional alliances and connecting people. She has had significant roles on boards and commissions, including the National FFA Board of Trustees, the Purdue Research Foundation and the Farm Foundation Round Table.
Ms Bechdol was raised on a multi-generation family grain farm in rural Indiana. She received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University in international law and international affairs, and completed her master’s degree at Purdue University in agricultural economics.
David is a borne South African and he is based in Oudtshoorn in the Klein Karoo, Western Cape. David currently hold the position of Managing Director of Klein Karoo Seed Production. After completing his B.Sc Agric degree at the University of the Free State, he enrolled for his two years compulsory Military Service. In 1985 he joined the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) as a Researcher in Plant pathology at the ARC: Oil and Protein Seed Centre in Potchefstroom.
During his time at the ARC, he continued his studies and completed his Honours and Master’s degrees in Plant pathology at the University of Stellenbosch, Western Cape. His field of study was soil borne diseases of legumes. In 1989 he joined Starke Ayres as National Seed Production Manager: Large Seeded Vegetables. During this time he also obtained his MBA at the University of Potchefstroom.
In 1995 he joined Klein Karoo Seed Production as Managing Director, where he still is today. During this time David served on many Boards and Committees, both as Member and Chairman, amongst others, Horticultural Committee: SANSOR, Board of Directors: SANSOR, National Lucerne Seed Trust, Klein Karoo Seed Marketing, Bakker Brothers, Seed Production Working Group: ISF, V&O Board and ISF Board etc. David is a dedicated Seedsman with significant knowledge of the seed industry and more than 30 years’ experience in Seed Production.
Mr Ralf Lopian holds an agronomic degree from the University of Kassel (Germany) and specialized in plant protection. Originally a German citizen, Ralf followed his wife to Finland and became a Finnish citizen in 1997. He has held various positions with the Plant Pathology Department at the University of Helsinki, the National Plant Protection Service of Finland, and the Secretariats of the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO) and the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). Ralf joined the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland in 1994 and was head of its Plant Protection Section until 2001. Since 2001, he has taken on the responsibilities for the coordination of international plant health affairs in his ministry. Moreover, he was the chairperson and vice-chair of the Interim Commission on Phytosanitary Measures of the IPPC. Ralf is also a member of the Council of EPPO as well as a long-serving Finnish representative to the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Committee of WTO. Ralf has been chair and delegate in numerous working groups of the EU Commission and Council, EPPO and the IPPC. He is the Chair of the FAO International Steering Committee for the International Year of Plant Health.
Following graduation from the INA-PG Agricultural Engineering School (France) in 1982, Franck Berger gained initial experience in international development and in Production and Breeding of field crops before joining Clause Semences (vegetable seeds) in 1989.
After serving in various leadership positions at Clause, and upon the acquisition of the company by Limagrain, he spent 6 years abroad as VP of Sales & Marketing for Harris Moran in Modesto (USA) and as Executive Vice President of Kyowa Seed in Tokyo (Japan). Franck then was Director of Production and Supply Chain at HM.Clause in Valence before becoming its Deputy CEO 2011.
In November 2015, he moved to Groupe Limagrain’s headquarters in Saint-Beauzire (France) and one year later was nominated CEO of the Vegetable seed division. He subsequently became a member of Groupe Limagrain’s Executive Committee.
Franck recently served a 3-year term as President of UFS, the French national seed association (2016-2019) and remains its vice-president. He has been a member of the board of the ISF vegetable section since 2010 and since 2018 he represents France on the ISF Board.