The First International Conference of Wheat Landraces for Healthy Food Systems

Updated October 20, 2017—

As Scottish poet, Robert Burns, once wrote, “the best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry.” So it should come as no surprise that several months after making the announcement here on my blog, while helping to organize an international conference, we found that we were unable to complete everything necessary to host our event in St. Petersburg by our originally scheduled date. During the reorganization period, a couple of significant changes occurred, including a new conference location and, of course, a new date.

And so I am very pleased to announce the First International Conference of Wheat Landraces for Healthy Food Systems will officially take place at the historic and world-famous University of Bologna in Italy on July 13-15, 2018! I invite you to visit our website for more information, as well as instructions on how to register for any interested parties. See you in Bologna in June 2018!

*While I am saddened that we were unable to host this first conference in St. Petersburg, as I had first hoped, I expect we will have a wonderful conference in Bologna. And perhaps one day we will have an opportunity to hold a future conference within the inspirational walls of the Vavilov Institute.


During the summer of 2015, I had the opportunity to visit the Vavilov Institute of Plant Genetic Resources in St. Petersburg, Russia. I had first heard of this seed bank from my science teacher in high school and my first visit to this place was an incredible inspiration to me.

For those of you who may not know, the Vavilov Institute has a rich and dedicated heritage of collecting and preserving seeds from all over the world. Perhaps among the most moving examples of this dedication was the amazing sacrifices of the scientists during the 900-day siege of St. Petersburg during World War II. Many of these dedicated individuals gave their lives, starving to death, while protecting and preserving the seeds within the walls of this institution.

Vavilov Institute, St. Petersburg, Russian

© Alex Florstein Fedorov, Wikimedia Commons

Today, many plant scientists around the world are putting their professional lives on the line by not following the dominating dogma of biotech that focuses largely on yield and efficiency. They have chosen, instead, to study and report the importance of landraces and ancient grains and how they may be a good match for regenerative organic agriculture with an emphasis on nutrition and health, rather than just increasing yields and efficiency of manufacturing.

And so, to the site of such heroic and selfless acts to preserve seeds in the past, Kamut International, IFOAM Organics International and the Vavilov Institute will be inviting many of the modern-day protectors and promoters of wheat landraces and populations, as well as extending an invitation to any who may be of interest, to gather and discuss their findings and ideas at the First International Conference of Wheat Landraces for Healthy Food Systems in St. Petersburg, Russia July 19-22, 2017*.

Our hope is to bring together like-minded scientists from around the world to discuss the health challenges of modern wheat as well as its production and processing with a focus on finding solutions to those challenges. Our intention is for this to be more than a meeting of great minds, this will be a problem-solving conference to help and to encourage those working in this area by exchanging ideas, debating theories and developing new hypotheses to examine.

Personally, I am very excited about this historic event and also wish to invite any interested, forward-looking food company executives, leaders in agriculture and government officials. If we missed you in our initial outreach, please contact me for more information.

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