Webcast Tomorrow: Now Serving 9 Billion

posted in: News | 11

I just received word* that a special webcast will be happening tomorrow, Friday the 12th, called Now Serving 9 Billion: Global Dialogue on Meeting Food Needs for the Next Generation. The webcast will occur from 10 am-12 pm U.S. Eastern Standard Time (-5 GMT), which will be 9-11 am in the U.S. Central time zone where I am. Here are the panelists that will be appearing in the webcast:

  • Dr. Nina V. Fedoroff; Science and Technology Advisor to the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and to the Administrator of USAID Rajiv Shah.  Author of “Mendel In The Kitchen” Bio here.
  • Dr. Robert Paarlberg, Wellesley College.  He is the Betty Freyhof Johnson Class of 1944 Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College and Associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University.  Author of:  Starved for Science:  How Biotechnology is Being Kept Out Of Africa. Bio here.
  • Dr. Calestous Juma, Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Professor of the Practice of International Development. Director, Science, Technology, Globalization Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.  Bio here.
  • Mark Cantley, former Advisory in the Directorate for Biotechnology, Agriculture and Food, of the Directorate-General for Research of the European Commission, and formerly head of the OECD’s Biotechnology Unit.  Bio here.
  • Frank Sesno, moderator, Director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University, Emmy-award winning journalist, and host and creator of Planet Forward, a ground-breaking web-to-television show seen on PBS.  Bio here.
  • Dr. Gale Buchanan, CAST report lead author; College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, The University of Georgia, Tifton Campus; former USDA Under-Secretary for Research, Education and Economics. Bio here.

The webcast is sponsored by:

  • CropLife International,
  • Council on Agriculture Science and Technology, and
  • Biotechnology Industry Organization

I know I will be watching this. I am familiar with Fedoroff and Paarlberg, but the other participants will be new to me. Frank will be following it on Twitter, and he tells me that anyone else using twitter can follow the discussion using the #agCAST hashtag (#agchat too), and you can also ask questions on the website here or in twitter by sending them to @CropLifeEvent. (Facebook too.) The event says that you have to register whether you are showing up in person in Washington D.C. or whether you watch it online. I sent an email to the organizers and I heard back that registration is not necessary for you to watch the webcast, and there will be a video available online after the event.

Whats neat about this is it is a live webcast that links viewers around the world who can discuss it together through social media, and even ask questions that may reach the panelists from 1000’s of miles away. “Town Hall 2.0”? I hope to see a lot of you joining in the discussion! Feel free to use the comments section of this post to talk about the webcast as it plays out.

*First time my adviser suggested a media distraction for me to check out! I know. Whoa.

Follow Karl Haro von Mogel:

Karl earned his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics at UW-Madison, with a minor in Life Science Communication. His dissertation was on both the genetics of sweet corn and plant genetics outreach. He recently moved back to his home state of California. His favorite produce might just be squash.

  • Mmm…. coffee is good. I’m waiting for the webcast to begin, starting to send in questions. Here is the first one I sent in:

    Recently, some scientists, farmers, and others have been advocating combining genetic engineering with organic growing methods. This has been met with some interest from the organic community, which usually opposes it for ideological reasons. But even the USDA published a report last year arguing the benefits of such an alliance, later pulling it due to pressure from the Organic Industry. My question is: what do you think about the merits of combining these politically-separated tools and practices? Should the ag community pursue an Organic-Biotech option, or should we try to start a new certification system that combines the best of both worlds?

  • Martina Newell-McGloughlin just asked a question about NGO’s from the audience. I’ve met her before at UC Davis. Good question about scientists being better communicators… hey that’s what we’re trying to do here!

  • Just submitted question:

    Not all the scientists who follow this topic are bad communicators – I founded a group blog written by plant geneticists called Biofortified – the first of its kind. (www.biofortified.org) I wanted to let you know that scientists like us exist. But it is hard to find the time to do it, and even harder to get the information hear over the noise. How can we make communication more important in the scientific community, and how can we reach more people?

  • Wow, that was exhilarating. So many people really communicating about really complicated topics. I hope it doesn’t end there.

    It’s such a contrast to some stories I read about Bt brinjal discussions in India where activists were basically shouting out the few scientists that were able to get in.

    Here I really felt like everyone has the same goal – feeding everyone – and that we are able to discuss how to do that without resorting to yelling.

  • Party Cactus

    Well, that was pretty cool. I had homework that had to be submitted by 12 that I though would take less time than it did, so I only vaguely paid attention to the last 40 minutes or so, but I’ve got the audio saved for later. Almost made me wish I had a Twitter account.

    Maybe if biotech proponents were using a cheap tactic like going out and dressing up as cute happy little Hello Kitty style Bt brinjal 🙂

  • Anastasia, do you think the difference was the result of a different political/social climate in the US right now, good managing decisions by the people who put together the webcast, or just that no one invited the angry activists? Some combination there of? Other factors I haven’t thought of?

  • I think there is a slightly different climate surrounding this issue – for instance climate change is being linked to plant breeding and genetic engineering both on the mitigation end (reducing fuel use and GHG emissions) and on the adaptation end. People are starting to ask, hey where are the GE plants we need for this problem?

    The webcast certainly had representation from the ‘pro’ side and not much was heard from the anti side. But the same can be said for the twitter conversation – I know that GM Watch, Charles Margulis, and many other folks on the extreme anti- side knew about this webcast as they read the Monsanto twitter very closely. (And Biofortified too). But they did not show up in the conversation. Why is that, I wonder?

  • There were some people asking critical questions about genetic engineering in the Twitter feed, but you’re right, a lot of people were missing. Not just GM Watch, but Ethicurean, Tom Philpott, etc. Some of them tweet or post during the day so I know it’s not for lack of time. Lack of interest?

    It is easier to preach to the choir, maybe they aren’t interested in actually useful discussion? It’s like when someone does a drive by on Biofortified, posting one or a few critical comments and then not sticking around for meaningful discussion. I don’t understand it and it makes me sad.

    I don’t learn much if I only talk to pro-biotech plant scientists, as much as I like you guys 🙂 So I purposefully seek out people who have things to say that challenge my ideas about the world, such as by hanging out with the Sus Ag crowd at ISU. They’re fascinating, and I feel like the conversations are really meaningful.

    Talking to different people on Twitter has been pretty good, but I don’t like squishing my thoughts into such a small space. I’ll just keep inviting them back here to Biofortified…

    Heck, if it gets people thinking about science, I’d be willing to dress up as a Cutey Bt Brinjal!

  • If something about the format managed to attract some many interesting people (from the little of it I caught), but kept it unappealing to those only interested in stoking their own outrage (and there are plenty of the latter on twitter which is why I’ve mostly given up tweeting about science), I hope they figure out whatever it was and keep it up!

  • Alex Rinkus

    Glad to see you all enjoyed the event! I thought I would pass on the link to the recorded video of the event. If you have any other friends, family, or colleagues who would enjoy the event please feel free to pass on. Enjoy!

    http://www

    Alex Rinkus
    CropLife Foundation

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