Comment today to shape FDA biotech outreach

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The Food and Drug Administration is accepting public comments on a new education and outreach initiative about biotechnology, mandated by Congress. Comments close on Friday, November 17th, and Biology Fortified strongly encourages scientists and members of the public to submit comments to help shape and inform this initiative. A public meeting was held this week in Charlotte, NC, and a second meeting will be held on Tuesday November 14th in San Francisco from 8 am to 1 pm, where members of the public can sign up to submit oral comments as well.

Education and outreach are extremely important to address the wide gap between the scientific literature and public perceptions about biotechnology, and these outreach efforts must themselves be informed by what we know about science communication. Biology Fortified will be submitting our own comments to the federal register, but if you take a look at the comments that have already been submitted online, you can see that there are very few informed comments at all, some of which make accusations of the FDA and swearing insults and implied threats against them. These comments, however, will do little to sway the FDA, but what will have an impact are informed, on-point comments that can help them navigate this issue.

Your comments can and do make a difference. Recently, the USDA scrapped new proposed rules regulating biotechnology that did not make much sense, and this was in part due to the detailed comments that they received. What does the FDA want to hear about?

We invite the public to share information, experiences, and suggestions that can help inform the development of the education and outreach initiative. We invite interested persons, including those participating in the public meetings, to respond to the following questions specifically regarding agricultural biotechnology and biotechnology-derived food products and animal feed:

1. What are the specific topics, questions, or other information that consumers would find most useful, and why?

2. Currently, how and from where do consumers most often receive information on this subject?

3. How can FDA (in coordination with USDA) best reach consumers with science-based educational information on this subject?

The comments received will help FDA identify education goals, messaging, and dissemination strategies for FDA’s Agricultural Biotechnology Education and Outreach Initiative.

If you wish to attend or tune into the live stream of the upcoming San Francisco meeting on Tuesday the 14th, there is more information on this page

Submit them online on the Federal Register site here. The deadline is Friday. November 17 – don’t delay!

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.