Salinas Biological Summit

May 27, 2023
Leon Panetta to speak at Salinas Biological Summit

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will deliver the keynote address on food security and innovation at the Salinas Biological Summit.

Panetta, chairman of the Panetta Institute of Public Policy, is scheduled to speak on the second day of the event, which is June 20-21 at CSU Monterey Bay’s Salinas City Center. Registration, agenda and speaker details are online.


Co-presented by Western Growers and New Zealand-based agrifood tech consultancy Wharf42, the 2023 Salinas Biological Summit will provide an opportunity for growers to increase their awareness of available biological solutions to address soil and plant needs, and for agricultural businesses to learn about the science and start-up activity by innovators in crop protection.

“We are honored and pleased that Secretary Panetta will be joining us as the keynote speaker for the Salinas Biological Summit,” Dennis Donohue, executive director of the Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology, said in a news release. “His focus on food security, innovation and the value of global collaboration by the ag sector underscores the importance of the WG biological initiative.”

Unanimously confirmed in 2011 by the U.S. Senate as the 23rd secretary of defense, Panetta has a 50-year career in public service at the highest levels of government. As secretary of defense, he established a new defense strategy and expanded service opportunities for women and others regardless of race, creed, color or gender. As Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, he successfully led the operation that brought Osama bin Laden to justice.

Panetta began his public service career in 1964 as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army, receiving the Army Commendation Medal, and then served as a legislative assistant to U.S. Senator Tom Kuchel. In 1969, he was appointed director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, where he was responsible for enforcing equal education laws.

Elected to Congress in 1976, Panetta represented the California Central Coast district for 16 years and created the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. In 1993, he was sworn in as director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget for the Clinton administration and later was appointed White House chief of staff, working to achieve a balanced federal budget.

In 1997, Panetta returned to his hometown of Monterey, California, to establish and co-direct The Panetta Institute for Public Policy, a non-partisan, not-for-profit study center that seeks to inspire men and women to lives of public service.

Additional speakers at the Salinas Biological Summit include Dave Puglia, president and CEO of Western Growers; Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture; Julie Henderson, director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation; Don Cameron, vice president and general manager of Terranova Ranch; Pam Marrone, CEO and founder of Chestnut Bio Advisors; and Scott Kumar, senior vice president of global research and development at Driscoll’s.


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