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Beyond Pesticides Welcomes Senior Scientist and Policy Expert

(Beyond Pesticides, December 8, 2011) We are pleased to announce that Mark Keating, a conservation biologist with over 16 years’ experience in the organic science and policy, most recently as policy expert with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program, is the latest addition to the Beyond Pesticides staff. Mr. Keating will serve as Beyond Pesticides’ Senior Scientist. Among other things, he will bring his expertise to Beyond Pesticides’ work on organic agriculture, while applying the principles of organics to broader land management and beyond.

Since the mid-1990’s, Mr. Keating’s professional experience has been connected to government service and academia. He served as a county cooperative extension agent in northeastern North Carolina before coming to Washington, DC in 1998 to work for the Henry A. Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture. Writing research papers, reports and technical comments to federal agencies for the Wallace Institute, Mark began to develop an expertise in organic production and certification, pesticide regulation, and the federal agricultural research system.

Mark joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program in 1999 as the principal staff person working on organic crop and livestock production standards under the Organic Foods Production Act. He drafted proposed rules and other submissions for the Federal Register and responded to ensuing public comments. Collaborating with National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) members and private sector stakeholders, he helped develop the federal organic standards. Mark was part of the team that received the USDA’s Group Honor Award in 2001 for its work on the organic certification program. He subsequently worked for the USDA’s Marketing Services Branch where he provided assistance to farmers markets and other direct-to-consumer marketing operations.

Between 2006 and 2009, Mark was a lecturer with the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture and played a lead role in designing and implementing its undergraduate major in sustainable agriculture. He also served as the state assistant for the USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program at the University of Kentucky and Kentucky State University during that period. Following his work at the University of Kentucky, he returned to USDA as an Agricultural Marketing Specialist with the National Organic Program. Mark has dedicated his career to raising the public consciousness that the defining challenge of the 21st century will be how, where and by whom our food is produced.

Prior to this work, Mark’s interest in the connections between agriculture, community and environment dates back to 1982 when he began working at a slow food-inspired restaurant. He was impressed by the capacity for food, when fully appreciated, to bring people together and he recognized the connections between proper agricultural practices and environmental stewardship. These themes have remained the central thread of his professional and personal life ever since.

Mark received a B.A. in Studies in the Environment and History from Yale University in 1988 and went back into food service, first as a tofu and soy milk processor and subsequently as an organic farm laborer. With a growing interest in a global perspective on food systems, he began visiting El Salvador in 1990 and was deeply inspired by the campesino cooperative movement and its commitment to economic justice and a democratic society. This work formed the basis of his graduate studies. With a Master’s thesis titled, Defending the Land: Sustainable Agriculture in El Salvador, Mark received an M.S. in Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development from the University of Wisconsin in 1995.

Mark and his wife Barbara Lynch, a botanist and herbalist, are the proud parents of their daughter, Celeste.

Please join us in welcoming Mark to the staff of Beyond Pesticides. He can be reached at [email protected] and 202-543-5450.


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