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Purdue Ag Receives $32 Million Grant, AgraQuest Adds Ex-Monsanto CEO to Board, and Food Day Arrives

April 6, 2011 |

As 85% of available employment in Afghanistan is in the agricultural sector, Purdue University has received a 5-year grant of $31.9 million from USAID to help develop a more sustainable agriculture sector in Afghanistan. The grant will fund a program that provides educational training to agriculture faculty members from five major universities in Afghanistan. A major brain drain occurred when most of the highly trained faculty left the country shortly after the Soviet Invasion in the 1980s and Purdue hopes to provide a remedy. The grant will build off work begun in 2006 by Purdue’s agricultural economics department through its Afghan Faculty Exchange Program. The primary focus of the program has been to help Afghan university faculty to develop effective agriculture curriculum for their universities. The new grant will provide eighteen junior university faculty members from Afghanistan with full scholarships to Purdue in order obtain masters or doctoral degrees.  Read the full article: Purdue receives $32 million Afghanistan farm grant.

AgraQuest, the biotechnology company that develops innovative biopesticide and yield enhancing products that support sustainable agriculture, has added ex-Monsanto CEO, Robert Shapiro to its board.  Shapiro will work with the company’s management team to position AgraQuest as the global leader in biological and low chemical pest control solutions. According to AgraQuest CEO Marcus Meadows-Smith, Shapiro “is a tremendous addition to our board with his deep understanding of agriculture and his vision and experience in transforming Monsanto, and thereby the agriculture industry. Read the full release: AgraQuest Announces Addition of Robert Shapiro to Board of Directors.

Just as Earth has its day, so too now does Food. ‘Food Day’ has been officially declared and will be observed for the first time ever on October 24, 2011. The goals of ‘Food Day’ according to the organizers, The Center for Science in the Public Interest, will be to influence the way Americans eat and think about food. Large events will be put on in New York, Washington D.C., and San Francisco.  Primary focus areas for food day will be as follows: supporting sustainable farming and eliminating farm subsidies for agribusiness, advocating for healthy food to reduce disease related to unhealthy diet, alleviating hunger and expanding access to food, curbing junk food marketing to kids, and reforming factory farms to protect animals and the environment.  Michael Pollan, an advisor to the ‘Food Day’ initiative says: “Food Day is an opportunity to celebrate real food and the movement rising to reform the American food system.” Read the full Food Day Press Release.


  1. Beth Feehan

    With all due respect, touting the placement of former Monsanto CEO Robert Shapiro to the Board of Directos of another biotechnology company, AgraQuest, is hardly a sustainable ag topic. How about a little disclosure here on what Monsanto makes by way of “low chemical pest solutions”. Any room for opinions in your coverage? You can’t put the word Monsanto in the same sentence with the word sustainable and be taken seriously. Please…

  2. maria concilio

    Agraquest is Monsanto sticking their genetically modified foot in the door and continue trying to mess things up for organic agriculture. The last stunt of obtaining de regulation of bio tech alfafa was the dirtiest trick I have ever seen. This smells of monsanto and of their tricks. Greenwashing would be a mild term when applied here. Agraquest my …foot.

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