The University of California, Davis, has named wheat industry executive Bonnie Fernandez as executive director of the Center for Produce Safety.

Fernandez, who currently serves as executive director of the Woodland-based California Wheat Commission, will begin March 1.

"Bonnie Fernandez brings to this position a wealth of knowledge and practical experience in California agriculture," says 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."

Fernandez has served with the California Wheat Commission since 1984, including 15 years as the commission's executive director. She holds a master's degree in business administration from California State University, Sacramento, and a bachelor's degree in agricultural business management from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

She has served on various U.S. Department of Agriculture advisory committees, 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 U.S. Wheat Associates Phytosanitary Committee.

The Center for Produce Safety, established in April 2007, is designed 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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