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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Biotechnology Outreach Program
2013 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). Formerly 5320-21000-013-04S (05/13).


3.Progress Report:

The implementation guidelines of this project to enhance outreach, extension, and biotechnology education with improved understanding of agricultural biotechnology issues directly link to the overall objectives of the parent project. This is the final report for this project.

It is important to provide youths with an appropriate exposure to biotechnology in agriculture because their expanded knowledge often gets carried back home, and contributes to forming opinions among their parents. During the life of this grant (2008-2013), we have conducted biotechnology education with children, using three different programs: Gene-ius Day School Field Trip Program, Saturday Gene-iuses Oahu Program and Saturday Gene-iuses Kauai Program.

The Gene-ius Day School Field Trip Program at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, was developed to stimulate an interest in agriculture, biotechnology and other life sciences in elementary-aged students, and to provide exciting hands-on learning activities. Gene-ius Day Field Trips to our university offer a series of activities that connect genetics and agriculture and are designed to align with the Department of Education’s standards and benchmarks. This ‘on campus’ experience allows students to imagine themselves as university scientists and increases interest in science related topics. Each field trip includes a plant cell lab, DNA extraction lab, an interactive lecture on human and plant genetics, and an agricultural talk that highlights the relationship between science and the food we eat. For the 2008-2013 school years, we had 4,300 fourth- and fifth-grade students from Oahu’s public (75%) and private schools (25%) visiting us. Approximately 50% of the schools have been attending the field trip program since it’s inception in 2006.

In the last several years, it has become evident that Hawaii’s teachers lacked the resources and time to teach science in their classrooms, and as a result of this, numerous requests were made from the general public (parents, teachers, and students) to offer additional science classes during non-school hours. The Saturday Gene-ius program (comprising a series of “missions” tackled by participants), initially launched on Oahu in March 2012, is a spin-off from our original Gene-ius Day field trips for elementary schools. Each Saturday, Gene-iuses Mission brings students and their parents onto campus for 2 hours of exciting, engaging activates that encourage scientific thinking and appreciation for all things science-related, with emphasize on agriculture and biotechnology. The Saturday Gene-iuses Program is based on agriculture and/or DNA and provides hands-on learning for the students. During the 2012-2013 school year, the Saturday Gene-iuses program offered seven different classes to choose from and the topics included DNA, plants, entomology, forensics, biotechnology, and food science. Over 275 students attended the Saturday Gene-iuses program, with 59 students attending all seven classes. These 59 students were recognized at a Saturday Gene-iuses graduation celebration at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, campus center where students participated in a graduation ceremony, 15-science experiment stations, photo booth, and a prize drawing event.

In the state of Hawaii, and especially on the island of Kauai, residents have significant concerns about local food production and food security. The Kauai Gene-iuses program concentrates on the importance of plant biology, plant genetics, and genetic traits found in the foods we consume every day. We find that acceptance of biotech crops is challenged on Kauai and throughout our state. Since Saturday Gene-iuses Program informs participants about genetics, what biotech means, and increases their awareness and understanding of food production we decided to bring this program to the Island of Kauai. The Saturday Gene-ius program-Kauia branch was initially launched on Kauai in March, 2013. Since that time, 133 students attended the Saturday Gene-iuses program.

Participants are able to better understand principles of food production and challenges to food production that can be addressed through the application of agricultural technology and an understanding of the genetic traits that underlie and impact food security.


Last Modified: 11/26/2014
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