After gaining an agriculture degree I travelled for two years and then worked on a beef cattle development program in the Solomon Islands for three years. This gave me an appreciation for subsistence-based cultures. Managed our family agribusiness (cattle, sheep, cereals) in South Australia from 1984-1997, during which time I became interested in the micronutrient, selenium (Se), as we had two farms in Se-deficient regions. I have always been interested in human nutrition/health/medicine, and in my mid-40s embarked on a new challenge, studying public health then completing a PhD on Se in wheat and people.
My research focus is on linking agriculture to human nutrition, and hence health, i.e. food system strategies to alleviate micronutrient malnutrition/other “non communicable diseases”. I have always relied on external funding and in this area it can be difficult to obtain, hence I am usually clinging to my Adelaide University position by my very fingertips. HarvestPlus (Washington DC) and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR, Canberra) have been my main supporters. I have worked in Australia (including the Torres Strait Islands), Colombia, China (including Tibet), East Africa, Indonesia (Papua), Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Kiribati and Tuvalu.
I have co-authored 7 books and 5 book chapters on biofortification, and global economic, environmental, agricultural and population issues, and various scientific articles. Currently, I am mainly interested in research and development which provides timely improvement in health, income and sustainability at village/farm level. I have introduced the now-popular Beauregard orange-fleshed sweet potato to Solomon Islands and found the Drumstick tree to be an outstanding accumulator of Se on “low plant-available Se soils” (as well as sulphur and b-carotene).
My evolutionist philosophy/metaphysics/even religion if you like is embodied in this quote by EO Wilson, who wrote “Sociobiology”: “Material reality discovered by science possesses more content and grandeur than all religious cosmologies combined.”
I am unimpressed with and dismayed by those scientific/medical “authorities” and institutions who are more concerned with maintaining and advancing their positions than in “seeking scientific truth”. I have observed massive wastage of public money due to this widespread phenomenon…mountains of money squandered on fruitless research. In contrast, the World Public Health Nutrition Association appears to embody genuine values and is unencumbered by “unhealthy” vested interests.