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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

2009 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. Documents SCA with Univervity of HI Manoa; formerly 5320-21000-011-04S. (06/08)


3.Progress Report

It is important to provide youth with an appropriate exposure to biotechnology in agriculture as it assists in forming opinions among their parents. I have conducted biotechnology education with children, working with various public/private schools in the state. Gene-ius Day field trips to UH campus were attended by 1,051 students with majority of the students in the grades 3-5. Field trips focused on genetics, DNA and the application of genetic traits in agriculture. Trips were tailored to meet standards from each grade level in addition to the higher-level science concepts. An additional 363 Gene-ius Day contacts made through classroom visits. Teacher education is an integral part of the Gene-ius Day program; they were provided with resource material to increase personal knowledge and extend learning beyond the visit. Students were introduced to genetics through books and homework prior to the field trip and completed projects to integrate the information covered.

Working with teachers over multiple years allowed them to integrate the material into their curricula. Parents were exposed to basic genetics concepts via homework and post-visit projects, supplying them with information to discuss the topic with their child.

Half-day workshops presented to 162 high school students. Workshops focused on applications of molecular biology in agriculture; use of DNA based research in biocontrol agents, protection from invasive species, and agricultural biotechnology. Events designed to widen the students’ scope of knowledge about agriculture and introduce them to possible career choices. Additional teachers were contacted through direct teacher education. Presentation to 30 teachers during the Increasing Agricultural Awareness in the Classroom workshop sponsored by Maui Women in Technology provided resources and demonstration of DNA based activities that can be done in the classroom.

Due to the lack of appealing educational materials appropriate for Hawaii we developed presentations and activities on genetics and biotechnology to middle/high school students. Adapted for classroom use and available for teachers at: www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/biotech/. Several high school instructors have agreed to collaborate for evaluating/developing additional materials. This is the first step to developing a Hawaii based high school level instruction unit that includes information on papaya, a locally produced GE product.

Created a 16-page book for 5th graders to increase understanding of agriculture. Colorful cartoon format shows importance of agriculture and the challenges faced by farmers. A rhyming song explains how scientists study traits to improve crops and how scientists and farmers work together to produce our food. The scientist was modeled after a scientist of Hawaiian ancestry; the farmer, Asian, to appeal to the state’s diverse population. Elements such as landscape and foods selected make the book relevant for a Hawaii audience.

Total of 3,027 people reached in FY09 for this part of the project.

ADODR monitored project by attending presentations, meetings, progress report, and communication through email and telephone.


Last Modified: 9/20/2014
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