Moving past our assumptions

If you could improve one thing in discussions between people with differing views, what would it be? I would encourage people (myself included!) to stop making assumptions about each other.

The thoughts here have been swirling in my mind for years, and it’s finally time to try to collect my ideas. I’m inspired to action after the recent Public Interfaces of Life Sciences event
at the National Academy of Sciences, When Science and Citizens Connect: Public Engagement on Genetically Modified Organisms. The sessions helped me to somewhat solidify my thoughts, and if you were present or if you watched online and followed #NASinterface, much of this will be familiar. Continue reading.

Comment Today on the next Genetically Engineered Potato

Innate Potato next to a conventional one

Innate Potato next to a conventional one

There’s always a little catch-up to do when coming out of the Holiday season. Back in December, the USDA public comment period opened up for a next-generation transgenic potato variety developed by Simplot. The previous Simplot “Generation 1 Innate” potato, which reduced browning, acrylamide, and bruising, was approved by the USDA in November last year. Back in 2013, we conducted an interview with Haven Baker at Simplot to find out answers to your questions about the potato and its new traits. Now they have another potato variety with more traits – Generation 2 Innate – which takes the traits of Generation 1 and adds late blight resistance and further reduces the acrylamide-generating potential of the tubers when you fry them.

There is a lot to discuss about this new variety and its traits, however, the first public comment period for USDA regulations ends today! I wanted to inform our readers about this deadline in case you wanted to submit a comment to this round, and I was able to obtain some more information about the traits from Erik Gonring, who manages Industry Affairs at Simplot. There will be more opportunities in the future to do an interview as we have done before, and feel free to start a discussion below. Indeed, there will be a public comment period for the EPA’s review of the second Innate potato. Continue reading.

What Shiva can Teach us about Science Communication

We can learn a lot about people from not just what they say, but how they choose to say it.  Communication scholars claim that something like 75% of meaning comes from non-verbal cues. Non-verbal cues are not just gestures, they come from our rate, volume, proximity and our willingness to absorb feedback.  Many suggest that the non-verbals communicate true intention, and that these signals may not always match the words.

When we critically evaluate the non-verbal performance of Dr.Vandana Shiva on China’s CCTV, (beginning at 23:00 min) we learn a lot about the person. This video is a MUST WATCH.  Portrayed by her supporters as a kind-hearted and gentle defender of the downtrodden and the environment, we see her true colors. It is not just her words, but the way she chooses to say them. We can analyze her communication style and rhetoric and draw some important conclusions.

Continue reading.

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grow-email-list-onlineHi everyone, Frank N. Foode™ here, and I think 2015 is going to be a good year! The plushies from our Kickstarter have finally made it to the U.S., updates are coming to GENERA, and an invigorating discussion about the future of Biology Fortified following a month of cyber attacks has inspired us to do more. We’ve got several projects in the works, and a campaign we’re preparing to embark on and we want to make it easier for everyone to stay informed and to help spread the word. Please consider joining our mailing list!

What do you get by joining the Biology Fortified mailing list? Periodic updates and announcements about our projects, videos, important news and events, and ways that you can get involved. We’re planning on more volunteer opportunities, art projects, contests, and even a citizen science experiment (the seeds for this just arrived today)! Get informed about what is coming up next. Plus we’ll toss in a few tidbits that you don’t get on the blog just for our mailing list subscribers.

We also know what it is like to have a cluttered inbox – and we’re going to send out our newsletters only when we really need to – usually only 1-2 per month, but there may be more in the future as we grow. If there are certain things that you really want to hear about but not so much the rest – just check the boxes below for the news you care about. You can change these settings anytime.

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Feeling Detached from Food Production? Blame Jethro Tull

Many consumers today feel out of touch with how their food is produced and are disturbed by a lot of what they hear about it through their social networks or other sources of information. If it is necessary to assign fault for this phenomenon, I think we could blame Jethro Tull.

Jethro Tull!?


Ian Anderson and Martin Barre of the more modern Jethro Tull

No, I don’t mean the 70s rock band led by flautist Ian Anderson and guitarist Martin Barre, I mean the early 18th century agronomist and inventor named Jethro Tull  (the two Jethros did; however, have similar hair styles).
Continue reading.