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UC biotechnology website helps the public understand GMOs

The Issue

Thomas Cardinal Wolsey gave this warning in the late 15th century, “Be very, very careful what you put into that head, because you will never, ever get it out.” His admonition still resonates today relative to the impact of information people receive about genetically engineered (GE) crops and foods. It is the responsibility of public sector scientists to provide facts to inform consumers about issues being raised over crops and foods developed through the process of genetic engineering (biotechnology, genetically modified, or GM). This helps individuals make informed decisions about the desirability of the technology and its products.

What Has ANR Done?

The ANR Statewide Biotechnology Workgroup created the website at http://ucbiotech.org in 2001 to provide comprehensive information and resources on biotechnology intended to facilitate scientific evaluation, education and fact-based public discussion on GE foods. The Biotechnology Information section answers popular questions about the safety and environmental impact of organic, conventional and GE agriculture. Responses are linked to peer-reviewed scientific literature. The site also has a large "Resources" section with fact sheets, podcasts, curricula, games and displays available on loan, and an array of downloadable PowerPoint presentations and images.

The Payoff

Website helps tens of thousands understand science behind GMOs

Scientists and educators worldwide use information on the site to explain the science behind GE crops and foods and to introduce scientific data into the frequently emotional debate. As of 2011, there have been hundreds of downloads worldwide of the two-part series in the Biotechnology Information section, "Genetically Engineered Crops and Foods: A Scientist's View of the Issues" - often as a platform to educate local regulators.

Clientele Testimonial

"The website… is extremely easy to use... and will surely become one of the major sources of information worldwide." Consultant for CA Dept. of Education.
" No matter how many times I've looked at your Annual Review articles, I am amazed by the layers of information!" Monterey County Ag Commissioner’s Office.
"… It is wonderfully comprehensive and together they will be citation classics!" from Deputy Chief of CSIRO Plant Industries in Australia regarding Annual Review articles.
" I appreciate the effort that goes into your high quality displays. Being able to use them…is a valuable service." County Administrator, Maui Hawaii.


Peggy G. Lemaux,(510) 642-1589, lemauxpg@berkeley.edu