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Science Communication Short Talk 15 min

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This is the talk I gave at the International Congress on Entomology in Orlando, FL on September 26, 2016.

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Science Communication Short Talk 15 min

  1. 1. Talking About Agriculture to a Concerned Public Kevin M. Folta Professor and Chairman Horticultural Sciences Department kfolta.blogspot.com @kevinfolta kfolta@ufl.edu www.talkingbiotechpodcast.com
  2. 2. Research Funding and Reimbursement: www.kevinfolta.com/transparency Slides: www.slideshare.net/kevinfolta
  3. 3. QUESTION: How can we be effective in a public conversation about biotechnology?
  4. 4. A Few Central Core Concepts Humans have always participated in plant genetic improvement. Transgenic crop technology (familiar “GMO”) is a precise extension of conventional plant breeding. “The techniques used pose no more risk (actually less risk) than conventional breeding.” (NAS, AAAS, AMA, EFSA many others) In 20 years there has not been one case of illness or death related to these products In the USA there are several traits used in only 10 (- +) commercial crops, four that provide ingredients in the human diet. Genome editing techniques will revolutionize food and medicine.
  5. 5. Why is there even a problem? We are looking for honest answers about food and farming! We’re actually farmers, producers and scientists, but we’re too busy. How can we help you? We’re sorta farmers, producers and scientists.
  6. 6. How do all of us become more effective in communicating with a concerned public?
  7. 7. 1. Who is our audience? 2. Show that you understand. 3. Talk about your concerns and values. 4. Provide simple evidence that satisfies concerns and values. 5. IF you need it, have trusted sources.
  8. 8. WHO IS YOUR AUDIENCE? Most of the time these are people that don’t know about science and are concerned about food. Share science with them. WHO IS NOT YOUR AUDIENCE? Many have no interest in understanding facts. They are not a good investment of your time.
  9. 9. FEAR FACTS When we engage, we do it wrong.
  10. 10. How do we talk to others?How do we talk to others? A formula--A formula--
  11. 11. This is aboutThis is about earningearning trust.trust. Must start with empathyMust start with empathy Active listeningActive listening Only move to next stepsOnly move to next steps once you understand theironce you understand their concerns, and they know it.concerns, and they know it.
  12. 12. Lead With Your Ethics.Lead With Your Ethics.
  13. 13. Your audience is not moved by facts and statistics. You have to start by defining SHARED VALUES.
  14. 14. State your priorities up front What are things you care about in food and farming, that almost everyone can agree with?
  15. 15. State your priorities up front FarmersAnimal Care The NeedyFood Safety Environment /Conservtion Consumers
  16. 16. Identify common concerns and show how technology can satisfy them. COMPELLING ARGUMENT: We must ensure equal access to agricultural innovation. Solutions exist, that we don’t use.
  17. 17. Farmers Consumers Environment Needy
  18. 18. Grab your e-Real Estate Talk to public audiences – Get Involved! Participate in comments-section discussions Hug Your Haters Amplify positive, accurate messages Use your real name and credentials
  19. 19. Avoid these Mistakes Avoid “feed the world” rhetoric Always discuss strengths and limitations Don’t ever claim it is a single solution Understand the ‘backfire effect’
  20. 20. Conclusion Know your audience Listen and understand their concerns Talk about your values, your motivations Discussion ag innovations that can satisfy your common values Participate in social media discussions Be nice.
  21. 21. kfolta.blogspot.com @kevinfolta kfolta@ufl.edu www.talkingbiotechpodcast.com iTunes, Stitcher, Player FM Reach out if I may be of assistance
  22. 22. “Don’t tell me it can’t be done, tell me what needs to be done and help me do it.”

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