Project Number: 5320-21000-015-10
Start Date: Aug 01, 2013
End Date: Jul 31, 2018
Farmers are under pressure to increase production, control costs, and reduce the environmental impact of agriculture. Challenges they face include extreme weather such as drought and flooding, insects that literally eat the profits and diseases such as viruses and fungi, and weeds that can take over fields. Hawaii is the state with the highest number of experimental permits for biotech food development; as well as a state with the first developed and adopted GE fruit tree (papaya). As Hawaii’s third largest industry, agriculture is a key contributor to our state economy. At the same time, Hawaii has become a target of campaigns to discredit GE food development. As with any form of new technology transfer, there is potential for misunderstanding, misuse, fear, overconfidence or over-dependence. Outreach options suited to each target group will be used; to 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 procedures like DNA extraction, sequencing and food testing. 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. 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 the Hawaii Agriculture Research Center (HARC), as well as opponent groups, such as GMO Free Hawaii, on each island. Gene-ius Day program (K-12 students/parents’ education): It is important to provide youths and parents with an appropriate exposure to biotechnology in agriculture because it often assists in forming opinions among their parents. It will also help them make informed decision about biotechnology as adults. Now in its fifth year, the Gene-ius Day program teaches basic biological concepts and teaches that farmers and scientists work together to grow the food we eat. Presentations and field trips to UH Manoa enhance science education in participating schools and increase student awareness of science-based careers. We will team up with Hawaii 4-H to offer a series of Saturday hands-on science workshops at the Kauai Community College (KCC) and the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM) campuses. The Saturday Gene-ius workshop will be a modified version of my original Gene-ius Day (http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/geneius-day/) field trip that I currently offer for elementary schools.