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Showing posts from April, 2019

Seed School Debacle - Postmortem

Anger and frustration turned to disappointment and sadness.  People asked me why it mattered, why I didn't just let it go and do nothing on a beautiful Sunday rather than teach a class.  Because to me my favorite job is as a teacher. I love to help others understand.

I'm also saddened about the divide that happens when we discuss agriculture. I hate the organic/anti-organic, GMO/anti-GMO, chemistry/hate chemistry divides because they unproductively hurt everybody-- mostly the food insecure. There are real problems to solve, and I'm a huge fan of all tools on the table. I'm trying to heal a divide, and I know I make at least a little progress every time. 

I do feel that being excluded at the last minute was an unfortunate residue of social media, matched with the ammunition provided by others to ensure I was deplatformed.  What was really shocking was the acceptance (and condoning) of this by the MAMYTHS folks, and the silence of the March for Science leadership. I pinged…

POSTPONED. Here's the Story

The event scheduled for Sunday will not happen. We will do it in the Fall, and it will be sweet. 
I was scheduled to teach in a local class for gardeners, but was removed from the schedule at the last minute. It is unfortunate censorship to keep me out of a classroom. 

I arranged a room for their class in the building where I work.  I figured that the good alternative would be to teach my sections anyway right after their class was over, so participants could still enjoy the content I prepared, if they wanted to.   

The event was going to be open to the public.

However, I learned tonight from other faculty in the program that the Seed School moved the venue, and they are no longer on campus.  

So at this point I'm not compelled to teach those lectures because they were designed for the class participants. 

It opens the opportunity to do it bigger and better. We will organize something in the fall, free, and everyone invited. This is how we will create the changes we wish to see. 

Thank y…

The Class Will Be Taught

When they tell you you're not welcome to the party, throw one next door and invite everyone!
It was a sad time to be uninvited from teaching science to a group of local gardeners.  I had three modules that were really exciting, and organizers of the 3rd Southern Seed School caved to complaints about having me in the classroom teaching students. It is a sad censorship that is the residue of targeted harassment, and how people actually believe the false information that they've been fed. 

To say I was angry is an understatement.  I was livid. I barely slept, I thought about it a lot, and just became more angry.  To be eliminated from a program because people in my community feel I'm somehow toxic to a scientific curriculum is something I took very personally. 

So what to do?  

Teach the content anyway!  I organized the room for their class, and they'll be here in the building.  My class will happen in the same time slot where I was originally installed, so students can opt t…

CANCELLED - Science Silenced

I volunteered to teach this Sunday, on my time, pretty much all day.  I was going to be speaking at the 3rd Southern Seed School here in Gainesville FL.  Because of complaints to the organizers, I have been removed from the program. It is McCarthy-style removal of someone deemed "controversial" when there is no controversy.

I was originally slated to speak in three sessions. 

1. The History of the University of Florida Fruit and Vegetable Breeding Programs. I had neat old photos, cool history. 

2.  Plant Breeding and Genetic Improvement -- a topic with a lot of confusion among local seed-saving enthusiasts.  We were going to cover genetics and the need to understand pedigree and if seeds were saved from hybrids. We were going to touch on breeding and genetic improvement techniques from mutation breeding to the future of gene editing. 

3. Future Crops for Florida, a topic I have researched extensively and even designed and taught a course on this topic. We were going to cover pre…

Talking Biotech 182 – Insect Resistant Cowpea in Africa

The link to this week's podcast is here.  Cowpea is a critical crop in Western Africa.  It is consumed by millions daily, but also feeds livestock, all the while providing important nitrogen fixation for the farm.  Cowpea cultivation is threatened by Maruca vitrata, a butterfly who’s caterpillar stage feasts on the beans within the cowpea pod. Scientists in Nigeria have implemented a strategy using the Bt protein to fight against this pest.  Today’s podcast interviews Francis Onyekachi, Program Manager for the West African Maruca Resistant Cowpea Project.  He talks about the crop, the technology, and the strategy to ensure its continued efficacy.  Co-hosted by Nigerian native and University of Florida graduate student Modesta Abugu.