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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Biotechnology Outreach Program
2010 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)


3.Progress Report

The goal of this project is to provide introductory agricultural biotechnology education to target groups (children, marketing organizations, growers and associated industries). This contributes directly to the Objective of the in-house project.

A magazine titled, DNA in Agriculture Today, was created to meet the need for biotechnology education materials to reflect Hawaii’s cultures and environment. The magazine uses short articles, pictures and activities to explain biotechnology and how it fits the bigger picture of agricultural technology. Topics include DNA, mutations, selective breeding, clonal breeding, protecting the gene pool, genetic engineering, and sustainability. While the magazine will appeal to general audiences, it is designed as a supplement in 7th grade classrooms; meeting the need for materials that connect science to societal issues and encourages further research and discussion. The magazine underwent extensive review by agricultural and Hawaiian Studies specialists to ensure coverage of genetically engineered taro was culturally appropriate.

Building on the success of previous years, 700 3rd and 4th graders attended Gene-ius Day at the campus. Students learned about DNA, isolating DNA from papaya, solving a forensics mystery, and discovering genetic traits. A fun lecture helped students to make the connection between food, farmers and scientists.

Follow-up classroom presentations were provided for 435 5th graders who had previously attended the Gene-ius Day field trip. The 1 hr presentation included a PowerPoint on traits and DNA, a review of the field trip, an entertaining skit where the students act as farmers and plants to learn about how scientist help farmers grow our food. Teachers were appreciative that the resource packet and the presentation tied agriculture to the state 5th grade benchmarks. Feedback on the resources will be used to refine the 5th grade packet over the coming year. An additional 240 5th-7th graders received 2 1-hr field trips that included DNA extraction, genetics and information on science in agriculture. All 5th graders received the book Caitlin’s Amazing Day; A story about farming and DNA which was produced by the program last year.

The teachers' feedback was helpful for refining a binder of resources distributed to high school teachers in June of 2010, which included labs and hands-on activities for students to learn about DNA and agricultural biotechnology. The resource highlights local research in the development of GE papaya.

Building student knowledge at the elementary level can provide more complex information in the upper grades. To be successful, teachers at each successive grade must increase the depth of information that is covered. Teachers reported that students had much greater initial knowledge and interest in genetics than previous years and it had a positive impact on coverage of the topic. Participation increased genetics coverage that they plan to include in future years.

The project is monitored through on-site visits, meetings, and telephone and email communications.


Last Modified: 10/20/2014
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