Scientists Explains Biotechnology to MU Journalism Students

(l - r) Senator Kit Bond, Kelly Gillespie, Dr. Roger Beachy (l - r) Senator Kit Bond, Kelly Gillespie, Dr. Roger Beachy

Columbia, Mo--The National Center for Soybean Biotechnology (NCSB) and the Missouri School of Journalism co-sponsored Biotech University, a workshop that is geared towards Missouri Journalism Students and Missouri Agriculture Journalism Students, on October 15-16, 2010 held at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri.

Biotech University was sponsored and funded by the United Soybean Board (USB). The Board is composed of 68 farmers and directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff, which is a research and promotion program funded by the U.S. soybean farmers.

Special keynote speaker, Dr. Roger Beachy, Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC presented a talk on "Ag Biotechnology – Who, What, How, Why". Dr. Beachy explained the controversies with science and the progress that is being made in biotechnology.

Other guest speakers were Mark Winkle, Senior Director of Domestic Program, United Soybean Board; Susan Luke, Associate Director, Osborn & Barr; Kelly Gillespie, Executive Director, Missouri Biotechnology Association (MOBIO; and professional journalists which included Bill Lambrecht, Washington Bureau Chief St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Julie Harker, Reporter, Brownfield Network; and Greeley Kyle, Associate Professor, Missouri School of Journalism-University of Missouri.

The students started their, day-two, with hands-on experiment of extracting DNA from a banana with Dr. Shari Freyermuth, Associate Dean of Academic Programs, College of Agriculture Food & Natural Resources. She stated that she "Enjoys teaching non-science majors and helping them realize the importance and relevance of biotechnology."

Then lab demonstrations were performed by Dr. Kristin Bilyeu in which she explained the importance of improving soybean seed composition for enhanced nutrition for food and animal feed; Dr. Zhanyuan Zhang demonstrated the "Gene Gun" which is used to transfer genes in plants; Dr. Henry Nguyen, Theresa Musket, and Jill LeRoy demonstrated molecular breeding.

Last stop was at the MU Bradford Research Center for a tour by Superintendent, Tim Reinbott, and, Kelly Forck, Farmer and President of Missouri Soybean Association. Kelly discussed why biotechnology was important to him as a working farmer.

Photo Courtesy of: Jonathan Hinderliter