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Mars, Incorporated Answers Question: 'How Does Feeding People and Pets Nurture Science and Discovery?' At TEDMED 2012

WASHINGTON, April 10, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Mars, Incorporated, as an official partner of TEDMED 2012, will share its approach to science across its Petcare, Chocolate, Wrigley, Food and Symbioscience businesses and how, as one of the world's leading food companies, it is seeking to improve physical, emotional and community wellbeing through scientific knowledge, leadership and collaboration.

TEDMED ( will see an audience of approximately 1,500 influential and high-profile leaders, academics, scientists and visionaries from all sectors of society come together in the The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC between April 10 - 13, to explore the promise of technology and potential of human achievement in health and medicine.

Howard-Yana Shapiro, Global Staff Officer, Plant Science and External Research at Mars, will join an eminent list of over 70 speakers to address the TEDMED audience on Wednesday April 11th, speaking on 'What is the source of all life?' Shapiro's TED Talk will focus on the importance of plant science, particularly understanding genomics and the role that it can play as a solution to fighting food scarcity, chronic hunger and malnutrition.  Elaborating more, Shapiro will highlight Mars' collaboration with the African Orphan Crops Consortium that includes the African Union, The New Partnership For Africa's Development,  the Beijing Genomic Institute, World Wildlife Fund, Life Technologies, University of California, Davis and many other partners in mapping and sequencing the genomes of 100 traditional African food crops that would both enable greater production yields and produce higher nutrient content for society over the decades to come.  

"As a global food business and official partner of TEDMED 2012, this is an extraordinary opportunity for Mars to engage with thought leaders on the future of global health and medicine," commented Richard Ware, global vice president, Mars, Incorporated. "This is a chance for us to connect with potential collaborators and share our vision for how we can create mutual benefits for our business and for society through the pursuit of science."

Encompassing themes of plant science, oral healthcare, nutrition and human animal interaction, the Mars TEDMED social hub – the booth which will house the Mars story for TEDMED delegates to visit – will seek to answer the question, 'How does feeding people and pets nurture science and discovery?' In addition to highlighting Shapiro's TED talk, detailed highlights in the social hub include:

Mapping the Cocoa Genome

In 2010, Mars, IBM and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) completed a two-year effort to sequence and annotate the cocoa genome. To allow scientists to apply this knowledge for the benefit of cocoa growers, the genome findings have been shared through the Public Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture (PIPRA) and the Cacao Genome Database. The gene sequences will not be patented. 

The Potential Health Benefits of Cocoa Flavanols

Cocoa flavanols are phytonutrients naturally found in cocoa. Numerous human studies demonstrate that cocoa flavanols can have potent effects on the cardiovascular system.  For nearly two decades, Mars scientists have collaborated with renowned researchers from around the globe to advance the understanding of cocoa flavanols, working together to deliver robust scientific evidence - including over 140 peer reviewed scientific publications, that could enable the development of novel dietary approaches for the prevention and amelioration of cardiovascular diseases.

Benefits of Human Animal Interaction

Scientific research shows that interacting with pets helps people enjoy happier and healthier lives, and strengthens the communities in which we live. Interactions between people and animals can have positive effects on the physical and psychological health and well-being of both people and their pets. Mars will welcome representatives from the Wounded Warrior Program, a project which provides therapy for wounded soldiers through dogs at rehabilitation centers. Sergeant Jon Gordon, a war veteran and his service dog will be meeting delegates in the space to show first-hand the rehabilitative impact of human-animal interaction.

Howard-Yana Shapiro will be joined at TEDMED by five other Mars experts, including Dr. Catherine Kwik-Uribe, director of research and development, Mars Botanical, Dr. Karyl Hurley, global scientific affairs, Mars Petcare, Dr. Bryan Hanley, director of scientific discovery, Wrigley and Dr.Linh Bui, head of scientific and regulatory affairs for Mars Food. Each expert will be available for delegates to connect with at the Mars TEDMED social hub and explore their individual areas of expertise and scientific discovery.

Mars videos featuring the Mars TEDMED social hub and interviews with the Mars segment-experts will which will be available at and on Wednesday 11 and Friday 13 April for viewing and download.  Live updates from the conference will be shared on the Mars corporate Facebook ( page and Twitter feed ( throughout the week. 

About Mars, Incorporated

In 1911, Frank C. Mars made the first Mars candies in his Tacoma, Washington kitchen and established Mars' first roots as a confectionery company.  In the 1920's, Forrest E. Mars, Sr. joined his father in business and together they launched the MILKY WAY® bar. In 1932, Forrest, Sr. moved to the United Kingdom with a dream of  building a business based on the philosophy of a "mutuality of benefits" for all stakeholders – this vision serves as the foundation of the Mars, Incorporated we are today. Based in McLean, Virginia, Mars has net sales of more than $30 billion, six business segments including Petcare, Chocolate, Wrigley, Food, Drinks, Symbioscience, and approximately 70,000 Associates worldwide that are putting our Mars Principles in action to make a difference for people and the planet through our performance.


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