CDFA Secretary Karen Ross has announced the appointment of Dr. Amrith Gunasekara as Science Advisor to the Secretary. Dr. Gunasekara is returning to CDFA after a period as a research scientist for the California Department of Public Health. In his previous assignment at CDFA, he was an environmental scientist in CDFA’s fertilizer program. Dr. Gunasekara has also worked for the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. He received his PhD from UC Davis. As Science Advisor, Dr. Gunasekara will be a steward of CDFA’s wide-ranging, world-renowned scientific expertise, and he will look to deliver that expertise to help facilitate ongoing review of the regulatory climate for agriculture.
Dr. Gunasekara will serve as CDFA’s liaison to the Cannella Environmental Farming Act Science Panel. Secretary Ross announced the following appointments to the panel: Jeff Dlott, PhD, CEO, SureHarvest (Soquel); Ann Thrupp, PhD, Manager of Sustainability and Organic Development, Fetzer & Bonterra Vineyards (Hopland); Don Cameron, Vice President and General Manager, TerraNova Ranch, Inc. (Fresno); Brian Leahy, Resources Agency, Department of Conservation; Mike Tollstrup, CalEPA, Air Resources Board. Ex Officio members will be Daniel Mountjoy, USDA NRCS and Louise Jackson, PhD, University of California Cooperative Extension. The Cannella Environmental Farming Act requires the Department of Food and Agriculture to establish and oversee an environmental farming program to provide incentives to farmers whose practices promote the well-being of ecosystems, air quality, and wildlife and their habitat. In addition, the CDFA is required to assist in the compilation of scientific evidence from public and private sources and serve as a depository of this information and provide it to federal, state, and local governments, as needed.
“The work of Dr. Amrith Gunasekara and the science panel will underscore CDFA’s commitment to science, to a fair regulatory climate, and to the ongoing documentation of the environmental contributions of farming,” said Secretary Ross.