Sprout the Seeds of Science

posted in: Updates | 8
Tax Exemption Application
Frank double-checks the postage before mailing the packet

Yesterday, I dropped an envelope in the mail. Not just any envelope, but a heavy packet of official correspondence with an agency of the United States government, which will mean the beginning of something new and important for us at Biology Fortified. The correspondence, which has been long in coming, is our application for tax exemption! If approved, that will make us a 501(c)3 organization, with donations tax-deductable and all the extra paperwork that this will entail (hooray!). This will help us with our long-term goal of developing educational resources, and bringing more people into the discussions we have on the Biofortified Blog and Forum.

Our readership has been steadily expanding. This time last year, we received 20,000 hits per month, whereas in March we passed 35,000. Many of you have helped us get here. When we called for donations to keep the site running and turn a little blog into a real organization, you helped us out and then some. Now we need your help to get us through this year and bring more cool things to our site. This time, you can also be a part of the journey. We need your help to Sprout the Seeds of Science.

You probably read the Biofortified Blog for a number of reasons: from the great explanations of science, reasoned commentaries, and detailed interviews, to the sense of community and civil nature of discussions on the blog and forum. You probably find yourself linking to our GENERA project pages in discussions and debates online, and are looking forward to more resources being developed for you on this blog. Or maybe you are just stopping by today but you know the value of these things. We do a lot with very little, and with just a little more, we can send what happens here around the world and back again! Your donation can help us do that.

Send Biofortified to BIO!

This week, I have been invited to be an official blogger at the 2013 Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) Conference, which is sure to expand our readers – but – this is in no way financed by BIO nor do I get anything for doing it but the information I bring back to our readers. So our blog has to get there under its own power.

There are a few things going on at this conference that I think you will be interested in. On Monday, there will be a discussion about the ever-important issue of weed resistance to herbicides, as well as one on the media. Tuesday, a topic we have discussed before will take center stage – how small companies can make it in a biotechnology industry dominated by large corporations. (Neal Carter from Okanagan Specialty Fruits will be speaking.) For these and other talks, I’ll travel cheap, and sleep even cheaper so I can get a camera and a keyboard at the convention to report on it. And I can represent all of you with good questions for the speakers.

I will be video interviewing Ron Stotish, CEO of AquaBounty, with the questions you submitted, and posting the interview on the blog.

And this just in – the Organic Consumer’s Association will be protesting Arctic Apples outside the convention which promises to be a little theatrical.

Send GENERA to a conference

Other opportunities are coming up on the horizon. As many of you know, we received a grant from the American Society of Plant Biologists to develop our GENetic Engineering Risk Atlas (GENERA), and our work on this has already begun. This grant, however, only covers the beginning of the project, and if we calculated it right, only the first 350 studies of a list that now includes over 600. There will be opportunities for people to help out with the project, but we want to take our project to a scientific conference. We want to start telling the scientific community about our project so they can start using it as a resource for their classes, outreach, and research. We’re still deciding which conference will be the best one to attend, but one we are considering presenting at is ASPB’s Plant Biology 2013 in July.

Keep the server juiced

Our site hits are going through the roof!

Some of you have noticed some website hiccups lately. With the generous help of Adam Merberg, we tracked down a couple bugs that were slowing things down, but we are facing the reality that popularity is expensive to maintain. Essentially, our expanding readership has been breaking our server! Our grant does not cover overhead, and the other funds we have will not last very long. If the trend of page views is any indication, it is going to get more expensive as we go, so we are going to need your continued support to keep our site live indefinitely.

More good stuff

We are also planning to start some new projects that I’m sure you will be excited about. Following the call for an easy-to-use myth debunking resource, we will be starting a fact checking site devoted to those questions that come up again and again about genetic engineering. Like our blog, everyone will have a chance to contribute their knowledge, and within time, it can help people find direct, clear answers to their questions about the truth behind many claims on either side of the debate.

Brother/Sisterhood of the traveling Plants

Headdress
Chief Frank N. Foode™ of Tenochtitlan

Finally, an exciting new activity! We want to send our plucky mascot, Frank N. Foode™ around the world. He’s already been to Thailand, Mexico, Italy (twice), Ecuador, and India, but he was always accompanied by a blogging companion. Starting this year, and if we get enough interest, Frank is going to venture out on his own and meet with people around the US and eventually the world, and we will get pictures and stories back to share with everyone. By contributing to our fundraiser, you can help ship Frank in a box (he travels much cheaper than I) to a new host every month. This host will send us back pictures, and set Frank on the next leg of his journey, which could take him to labs, fields, and exotic locales both near and far. Who will these hosts be, you ask? We are seeking scientists, farmers, students, and anyone else who would like to be a part of Frank’s story. You can help out by donating, and also by signing up as one of his hosts! Stay tuned for more information about becoming a host.

What your donation means

So lets get down to the numbers, how much are we hoping to raise?

Our estimate is that $1500 will get us through to the end of the year and do all of these things. If we can reach this goal we will be in great shape. Here is what a donation of various amounts will turn into:

  • $10 will enable us to register a domain for a new fact checking website.
  • $10-15 will send Frank to a new destination in his journey around the world.
  • $35 will pay for a night ($70 for two) at a cheap hostel for BIO
  • $40 will pay for one month of website hosting
  • $50 will pay for a poster for Plant Biology 2013
  • $58 will pay for round trip bus fare to BIO
  • $200 will pay for cheap lodgings at a conference
  • $200-400 will pay for conference registration
  • $200-400 will pay for travel to a conference
  • $250 will pay for one year of mailbox service
  • $320 will pay for the entire cost of web hosting for the rest of the year
  • $1500 will take care of all of these things!

How to Donate

Here are the ways you can donate – and every little bit helps and is appreciated.

1) PayPal – the easiest way to donate any amount. They take a 2.2% cut (plus 30 cents) if you pay with your credit card, but there is no fee if you use your own PayPal or your checking account.




2) Buy something in our Zazzle store (we get 25%).

3) Send a check in the mail (avoids the small PayPal fee – a good choice if you want to donate more).

Send this to:

Biology Fortified, Inc.
3907 University Ave. #354
Middleton, WI 53562

Make the check out to Biology Fortified, Inc., and include your email address so that we can get in contact with you about your receipt. Don’t worry, we won’t do anything nefarious with it.

And here is the best part – when we get our 501(c)3 determination letter from the IRS, donations made by PayPal or by mail will be tax-deductible. This will apply to all donations going back to June 15, 2012. So if you have some spare cash from a tax refund, or if you want to see a better tax refund next year, consider that an extra incentive to support us!

Without organizations like ours, the potential for spreading knowledge remains dormant, like this pea seed to the right. If you support what we do, it will be like watering this shriveled seed. As we raise money for this year, this seed will spring to life and grow. Help us sprout the seeds of science. Thank you!

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.