Catching Up with CALS — Sept. 20, 2017
Dean's Message — Talking Science
The launch of the CALS Speaker Series Monday evening provided a great opportunity for the community to learn about GMOs or genetically modified organisms.
The college offered a forum to some of those most knowledgeable on the issue and invited members of the university and surrounding community to listen, learn and get their questions answered.
National Academy of Sciences member Fred Gould and science communicator Cara Santa Maria provided the bookends for the discussion.
He is a distinguished professor at North Carolina State University and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. She is a Los Angeles-based communicator who is successfully building a following through various media and is working with one of the most popular names in her field, Bill Nye the science guy.
One of the biggest challenges society faces in evaluating new technologies like GMOs is learning about and understanding the science.
Our panelists included Cathy Wilson from the Idaho Wheat Commission, Doug Cole of the J.R. Simplot Co., and Elizabeth Bingham of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association. They did a great job of providing Idaho perspectives.
The audience, too, added depth to the conversation with valuable questions and observations.
As chair of a National Academy of Sciences committee that examined GMOs, Gould led an immense effort to evaluate all of the relevant science. The committee’s report showed a strong scientific consensus that GMOs offer strong benefits, but this needs to be determined on a case-by-case basis.
The publication has been downloaded more than 35,000 times and is available free at https://nas-sites.org/ge-crops/.
GMOs are not the silver bullets that many hope for and in some cases the technology is being oversold. At the same time, GMOs can be of enormous benefit. From an agricultural perspective, they are important implements in a grower’s production toolbox.
Our CALS Speaker Series is an effort to provide people with the best information to think about the benefits and potential risks.
In a few weeks, Ag Days and Celebrating Idaho Agriculture events on Oct. 6-7 will welcome high school students and CALS alumni and friends to campus. We have invited another dynamic speaker to visit and provide a unique perspective.
National Institute of Food and Agriculture Director Sonny Ramaswamy will speak Friday, Oct. 6, from 5-6 p.m. in the Bruce M. Pitman Center Vandal Ballroom.
The former agriculture dean at Oregon State University, he now leads NIFA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s eminent research-funding organization. I look forward to both his engaging speaking style and to his insights on the value of science and the federal government’s evolving approach to funding.
MICHAEL P. PARRELLA
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
By the Numbers
1,082 children attended the CALS Summer of Science activities at the Moscow Farmers Market from June to August, including 510 who signed up for the program. A drawing selected 2 prize winners among those who attended 5 programs or more. Emerson Snyder won a nature backpack, and Matilda Lewallen won a microscope.
Our Stories — Celebrate Idaho Ag Days, Homecoming
This year’s events will take place during University of Idaho Homecoming weekend. The Idaho Vandals football team will face off against the University of Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns that Saturday in the Kibbie Dome.
High school students will gather for livestock judging events and workshops that offer samples of CALS department offerings.
An event Saturday morning will reprise a sampling of Summer of Science activities sponsored by CALS from June through August at the Moscow Farmers Market for elementary-age children.
CIA events begin with the CALS Alumni and Friends Awards Luncheon at 11 a.m. in the Bruce M. Pitman Center Vandal Ballroom.
One of the nation’s top agricultural research officials, Sonny Ramaswamy, will speak in the Vandal Ballroom at 5 p.m.
Ramaswamy is director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which has an annual budget of $1.2 billion.
The annual CIA barbecue is planned Saturday in the parking lot at 606 S. Rayburn St. that is adjacent to the E.J. Iddings Agricultural Sciences building.
Faces and Places
Jessie Van Buren received the Frank DeBenedetti Memorial Scholarship from the North American Meat Institute Scholarship Foundation to continue her studies in animal science and mathematics at the University of Idaho. The foundation announced recently that she is among 11 recipients of its undergraduate scholarships.
Latah County Fair Manager Jim Logan presented CALS Dean Michael Parrella with a certificate of appreciation to the University of Idaho before the annual livestock auction in recognition of UI support of the fair this year. The auction for FFA and 4-H livestock exhibitors' animals raised more than $400,000.
- Oct. 6 — Ag Days begins. “Agriculture Across the University” workshops. 7:15-8 p.m.
- Oct. 6 — Celebrating Idaho Agriculture Alumni and Friends Awards Luncheon, Bruce M. Pitman Center Vandal Ballroom, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
- Oct. 6 — Sonny Ramaswamy, National Institute of Food and Agriculture director, public address, Bruce M. Pitman Center Vandal Ballroom, 5-6 p.m.
- Oct. 7 — Pregame Barbecue, E.J. Iddings Agricultural Sciences gold parking lot, 606 S. Rayburn St., 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
- Oct. 7 — CALS Olympics, Soil Stewards Organic Farm near UI Sheep Center, 7-9 p.m.
- Oct. 26 — Farewell for former CALS Dean John Foltz
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