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Produce Safety Center at UC Davis Names New Exec Director

DAVIS, Calif. -- Wheat industry executive Bonnie Fernandez has been selected as the new executive director of the Center for Produce Safety at the University of California here.

Fernandez, who currently serves as the executive director of the Woodland-based California Wheat Commission (CWC), will start her new job March 1.

"Bonnie Fernandez brings to this position a wealth of knowledge and practical experience in California agriculture," said Neal Van Alfen, dean of UC Davis' College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. "She will help establish the critical partnerships that are necessary to provide a safe food supply, from the farm to the consumer's table."

Tim York, chair of the center's board of advisers and president of the Salinas, Calif.-based Markon Cooperative, commended Fernandez' s leadership, which he believes will further development of "workable, science-based solutions that will safeguard the food supply and strengthen California's produce industry."

A member of the CWC's staff since 1984 -- including 15 years as the commission's executive director - Fernandez holds a master's degree in business administration from California State University, Sacramento, and a bachelor's degree in agricultural business management from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

She has served on various U.S. Department of Agriculture advisory committees, and is currently a member of the Agri-Business President's Council and chair of the U.S. Wheat Associates Food Aid Working Group. She was the first chair of the U.S. Wheat Associates Phytosanitary Committee.

The Center for Produce Safety, established in April 2007, is intended to be a clearinghouse for research related to produce safety. Plant scientist Devon Zagory has served as its interim director since October.

The center also will help fund and coordinate research, training, and consumer education activities, with the goal of enhancing the safety of fresh produce. Startup funding for the center has been provided by produce industry leaders, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and the University of California.
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