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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Biotechnology Outreach Program

Location: Tropical Plant Genetic Resources and Disease Research

2011 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
1. Provide marketing organizations, growers and associated industries with current information on agricultural biotechnology. 2. Contribute presentations and inputs as requested at hearing of bills related to agricultural biotechnology bills. 3. Biotechnology education for children. 4. Improved understanding of agricultural biotechnology issues by growers, marketers, legislators and consumers.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Outreach options suited to each target group will be used. These options include formal presentations, printed materials, electronic materials, small-group discussions, video, and television presentations. Certain groups will be provided with opportunity to obtain hands-on training in certain aspects of biotechnology, such as basic things like DNA extraction, sequencing and food testing.

1. Interaction with marketing organizations: Providing marketing organizations with appropriate information is central to this program. This will be achieved by first identifying marketers that require information on biotech crops. Once identified, their level of understanding of the issues will be determined through surveys. The outcomes of these surveys will be used to develop educational materials suited to the needs of different marketers. This information will provide improved marketing within Hawaii, and also outside of the State, including mainland markets and international markets.

2. Grower/Industry Involvement: Contact and interaction with industry and activists: It is important to maintain a balanced and educated perspective on developments in agricultural biotechnology, in both the commercial sector and among the groups opposed to these developments. I have developed working relationships with Monsanto, Pioneer and HARC, as well as opponent groups such as GMO Free Hawai'i on each island. Grower groups with which I work include banana grower associations, papaya growers and coffee growers.

This project will continue to allow interaction among these major role players in the area of agricultural biotechnology. The types of interactions will vary as required, and will include most of the options listed above.

3. Legislative Presentations/Inputs: Work with State and County regulatory agencies: State legislators have to deal extensively with bills regarding biotechnology. In 2005 and 2006 legislative sessions, total of 64 bills and resolutions were introduced (House and Senate) opposing agricultural biotechnology. This underscores the importance of providing educational materials to legislators when requested. Documents SCA with Univervity of HI Manoa; formerly 5320-21000-011-04S. (06/08)Formerly 5320-21000-011-12S (11/10).


3.Progress Report

The most significant accomplishment this year is the DNA Today in Agriculture website, www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/dnatoday. Based on a print publication we produced in 2010, the 7-12 grade level resource presents biotechnology within the larger context of agriculture. Web publication of the book allows us to reach a larger audience, include interactive content, and provide more Hawaii based information and links. Subsections, called Hawaii Connections, highlight agriculture’s role in the state economy and culture. Teachers have reported a challenge finding internet sites appropriate for student use, as many are strongly biased, include misinformation, or have letters or comments that are inappropriate. This website provides a balanced approach with links to educational sites, government information resources and public media. The site is divided into 5 content areas DNA, Gene Pool, Mutants and Clones, Genetic Engineering and Sustainable Agriculture. Sections are divided into subtopics that provide background information and stimulate discussion. Throughout the site DNA research and biotechnology are presented as tools scientists use to increase food security. It also provides a platform for distributing teaching resources. Our K12 outreach includes field trips to the University of Hawaii campus. The majority of the 622 students attending were from Roosevelt Complex meaning that we have now brought every student in the complex for 3 consecutive years. Classroom presentations reached 547 children and included field trip follow-up visits. A goal is to continue to follow the Roosevelt students and to provide teacher support at each level to take advantage of the early experiences we have provided. The initial cohort of Roosevelt complex students will be entering the 7th grade, the time when genetics is covered in the curriculum. In preparation, the field trips, classroom visits, and workshops included more middle school students than in previous years and we then used these events to produce relevant resource materials and presentations. Workshop presentations provided for 55 students in the high school through early college group. 4H high school students were taught how to teach genetics to younger children. Both high-level high school students with the Ag Discovery Program and high school/early college students with disabilities from the Pacific Alliance were provided hands-on activities and career information. A presentation for students from South China University provided information about biotechnology in America.

We have positive feedback from teachers and those attending our programs. Program sponsors of the USDA Ag Discovery Program surveyed the group of students and gave a rating of 4.5/5. Students conveyed the effectiveness due to hands-on approach. When scheduling for this year, teachers expressed that they thought the field trip was excellent, but they had concerns about alignment with the state educational standards. Plant cell microscopy has replaced forensics in the field trip sequence which led to positive teacher response and continued field trip attendance. Project monitored by site visits, telephone and email communications.


Last Modified: 9/2/2014
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