CAST presented Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam with the 2014 Borlaug CAST Communication Award at a World Food Prize side event on October 15. For more details of the event, click here.
“I’m Willing To Deal with Controversial Topics," says Van Eenennaam
A good communicator gets the message across, and this year’s Borlaug CAST Communication Award winner has a way with words. The University of California-Davis animal science extension specialist and researcher believes it is important to step out of the lab and classroom often enough to let the public and policymakers know the facts. “Hunger is the enemy,” says Van Eenennaam, “and starvation is a story that needs to be told.” She believes that tech and science play major roles in the struggle to feed billions, and she also worries that scientists are being outmaneuvered by bad science and skewed sources.
Dr. Van Eenennaam proposes ways to rectify this imbalance. The agriculture community needs to
- be proactive and develop communication skills,
- stick with the truth and peer-reviewed facts,
- listen to all stakeholders while weighing the pros and cons,
- and push for more interdisciplinary publicly funded research.
What Do the Facts Say?
During the past few years, Van Eenennaam has also used video production as a “medium to deliver her message.” With help from students and staff at UC-Davis, she has won acclaim for several film clips, and her newest production combines insights, humor, and tech skills to ask the question: “What Do the Facts Say?” This parody of a Ylvis hit cleverly looks at the need for scientists to not only find the facts but also be willing to wave the truth like a flag as the agriculture community strives to produce enough food for our growing population.
In this year of the 100th anniversary of Dr. Norman Borlaug’s birth, the selection of Alison Van Eenennaam as the 2014 Borlaug CAST Communication Award winner is especially appropriate to honor his legacy of science research and agricultural communication.
Note: Dr. Van Eenennaam has chaired two influential CAST publications, one about the potential impacts of mandatory GMO labeling, and one about genetically engineered animals.