Seed World

Danforth Center Announces New Executive Director of the IICI

The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, the world’s largest independent plant science institute, announced that Donald MacKenzie will serve as the executive director of its Institute for International Crop Improvement (IICI). MacKenzie will manage the IICI’s programs and partnerships dedicated to translating key discoveries in plant health, disease and pest management, genomics, advanced breeding and nutrition to staple crops that impact food security around the globe. He will also provide guidance on navigating through the practical, safety and regulatory processes necessary to demonstrate that new crop varieties are proven safe and effective for the farmers who will benefit from them.

“We are extremely fortunate to attract Dr. MacKenzie to the Danforth Center and IICI,” says James Carrington, Ph.D., president of the Danforth Center. “His expertise in moving scientific discovery into the marketplace to meet needs of farmers, including smallholder farmers, and consumers is matched by few others.”

MacKenzie is an international expert in regulatory systems for agriculture, including environmental and food safety assessment. His extensive experience in plant product development and global regulatory processes aligns with the Institute’s commitment to collaborate with international and local partner organizations to deliver crops with improved nutritional content and disease resistance to places where people are in most need. In addition to feeding the hungry, these efforts have the potential to contribute to environmental health and empower farmers to become more self-sufficient.

“I am excited by the opportunity IICI has to deliver solutions for improving food and nutrition security, and that will contribute to addressing environmental and production challenges faced by farmers in developing countries,” says MacKenzie. “Building strategic alliances with partner organizations in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia will help ensure that the Danforth Center’s expertise and innovative technologies are deployed in ways that are both responsive and impactful.”

MacKenzie joins the Danforth Center from his position as the regulatory affairs and stewardship leader of the Golden Rice Project coordinated by the International Rice Research Institute. His proven track record of working with diverse stakeholder groups to achieve progressive policy outcomes was critical in his role as the canola global regulatory lead at Dupont Pioneer and Regulatory Affairs Leader for Dupont Pioneer Canada, where he provided direction and coordination across all regulatory and registration activities for canola globally. Prior, he was the executive vice president at Agbios, Inc., and held numerous government postings, including head of Science Policy Division within Health Canada’s Health Protection Branch. In 2012, he was awarded the International 2012 Leadership and Excellence in Agriculture by CropLife. MacKenzie received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the University of British Columbia, Canada.

The IICI works in partnership with international research institutions, NGOs, funding agencies and regulatory agencies. Members of the Institute are involved in international collaborations: connecting leading scientists and cutting-edge technologies, training international scientists, and providing regulatory, biosafety and project management services. This work is supported by a number of private sources and government agencies, including the James S. McDonnell Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and USAID from the American People.