Louise Fresco was named president of the executive board of Wageningen University & Research as of July 1 and will give up her spot on Rabobank’s supervisory board, the university said.
Fresco, a professor at the University of Amsterdam and former assistant director general at the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization, is succeeding Aalt Dijkhuizen, who will step down as of March 1 after 12 years, Wageningen wrote in an online statement today.
Wageningen was the world’s top agricultural-sciences university as ranked by output of scientific papers in the 2013 National Taiwan University Ranking, ahead of the University of California-Davis and Cornell University.
“Wageningen is about all the issues I have been working on all my life: questions about food, about the future of our economy, the greening of production and biomass,” Fresco was cited as saying in the statement.
Fresco will keep her job as non-executive director at Unilever until the company’s annual shareholders meeting in the second quarter of 2015 at the latest, the university said.
The new Wageningen president graduated cum laude at the university in 1986 in tropical plant breeding and production systems. Fresco was assistant director general at the FAO in Rome from 2000 until July 2006, before her appointment as professor at the University of Amsterdam.
Fresco, who is the author of books on food and agriculture including Hamburgers in Paradise, has said improving agricultural productivity can lift the poor out of poverty. She’s criticized organic agriculture because of its low yields and greater land requirements, and has called fears about genetically modified food “irrational.”