Project: Agricultural Genome Science and Public Policy Training Program
Agency: USDA IFAFS
PI: Schook, L.
Collaborator: Rodriguez-Zas, Sandra.
Grant Number: 2001-4183 2001-52100-11527
This proposal outlines the development of a unique Ph.D. training program in "Agricultural Genome Sciences and Public Policy" in which students will become "bilingual" with respect to communicating with scientists as well as the lay public. Our goal is to train students to be creative and innovative scientists who can lead and participate in the formulation of public policy. The desire to harvest the 'genomics promise' to develop differentiated products by farmers and agribusiness is driving new scientific developments. There is a growing need to supply both the technology and the talent to secure the continued competitiveness of American agriculture. However, the pace of change driven by genomics has clearly raised many public policy issues. Daily, new questions are raised with respect to public vs. private ownership of germplasm, access to research information and the safety of genetically modified organisms. The rapid pace of scientific change and the restructuring of the food and fiber industry have resulted in growing tensions between all sectors (consumers, producers, government and university researchers, and regulatory agencies). Scientists are finding themselves in the firing line between their traditional role in the research laboratory and the public's desire for a safe food supply. Thus, there is a need to train scientists that are well versed in communicating not only to their colleagues but also to the public-at-large regarding policy issues associated with genomics and biotechnology. Trainees will receive extensive instruction in genomics and bioinformatics, communication (both written and spoken), ethics, developing public policy, and provided with internship opportunities.