What makes your approach innovative?
Biofortified is a group science blog that focuses on genetic engineering and related subjects in agriculture and plant biology. Posts are currently written by two graduate students and two professors, with feature posts written by guest experts. The blog format gives interested consumers an opportunity to learn about genetic engineering, ask questions, and contribute to the discussion. Discussion is two-way, allowing all sides to learn about each other’s concerns. Anyone can start a discussion in our newly added forum. To our knowledge, no other organization is making such a dedicated effort to discussing genetic engineering on the web.
Our blog mascot, Frank N. Foode, helps to make genetic engineering easier to explain and understand. As he travels the country and the world in search of plant genetics adventures, he gives us a personal connection to the genetics of the foods we eat. In the near future, we plan to release the first in a series of videos starring Frank. Most people have all the basic tools to learn more about their food right at home, and with Frank N. Foode as their guide, they will see that science can be fun and delicious!
How will you sustain your solution?
To keep this project going, we will recruit additional contributors to Biofortified. Some scientists will participate by submitting posts, videos, or podcasts directly to Biofortified, while others that have their own blogs can have their genetic engineering related posts automatically cross-posted to the group blog. Contributors will be able to identify their membership in Biofortified with a special badge on their websites that link back to Biofortified, indicating to visitors that they are willing to engage in discussion about genetic engineering. We are also hoping to attract more guest experts, including critics of genetic engineering such as Michael Pollan, to get the conversation going and attract readers.
Biofortified is not even a year old, yet it already has over 2,000 unique visitors per month. It is important to keep people interested, to create a community where people feel that they can be open and honest, and to make the site entertaining enough to keep people coming back. Maintaining the site is fairly inexpensive, but we would also like to offer small monthly prizes to readers such as t-shirts or books to encourage them to engage in conversation.
What will be the impact of your solution?
Of the founding contributors to Biofortified, three live in the United
States and one in Australia. As more contributors across the world are
added to Biofortified, we will be better able to add to the global
conversation on genetic engineering. On the blog, we talk about more
than just the science – there’s also politics, social impact,
environmental issues, economic considerations, and more. We have the
potential to reach people around the English-speaking world on a wide
range of issues connected to this technology. We are hoping to gain
multilingual contributors who will be able to help reach across language
Genetic engineering is not a "RISK or RESCUE", it is a RESCUE with
RISKS. All plant modifications have risks, including traditional
breeding, so we hope to encourage public dialogue that puts this
technology in the proper context. Biofortified will both provide
consumers with science based information about genetic engineering and
give scientists a broader perspective of the impact of their work. If we
can accomplish these goals, we will have moved the global discussion of
genetic engineering forward in a positive manner. These are just a few
of the reasons why we think Biofortified deserves your vote.