[T]he winner of the Borlaug CAST Communication Award (BCCA) was honored at a World Food Prize side event, and this year’s recipient—Dr. Kevin Folta—gave a memorable keynote address: Unveiling Our Halo—Building Trust with a Concerned Consumer.
As the Chair of the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Folta conducts research, educates students, and communicates important concepts about science and the public. With a wide following on social media, he participates actively in the public forum about a variety of topics related to agricultural biotechnology. His curriculum vitae is filled with impressive publications, presentations, and awards…
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According to Dr. Jack Payne of the University of Florida, “Kevin Folta has done as much as anyone in the past decade to help the public understand the biotechnology behind its food.” And many agree with Julie Borlaug Larson’s observation: “He has not shied away from controversial subjects and has often been the number one target of the anti-science movement on behalf of all of us who support biotechnology.”
Dr. Folta’s presentation centered on the challenges scientists and the agricultural community have when working with a concerned public. He thinks scientists must explain the evidence-based risks and benefits of agricultural biotechnology, and that can be tough to do in an age of misinformation. “Lead with your ethics—facts by themselves won’t work,” said Folta. “We need to listen, explain, and gain their trust by developing a shared understanding.”
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