​​The High Price for Telling the Truth (And Why You Need to Do It Anyway)

February 2020 | 25 min., 19 sec.
by Kevin M. Folta
University of Florida

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There are great public controversies in areas where the science is well established. Areas like vaccination, genetic engineering and climate still spark intense public discord, featuring asymmetrical discussions on social media that erode public trust in science. Scientists and agricultural producers attempt to step into these discussions and make the situation worse, mostly because we rely solely on our expertise to convey factual information to correct misunderstanding. It does not work. The presentation will detail Kevin Folta’s journey through two decades of science communication with the public, show his mistakes and corrections, the near career-ending attacks from activists, and the way to move forward by earning trust and encouraging broader participation of the scientific community. Creating trust in science and agriculture requires everyone to participate in effective ways using the most appropriate media.​

About the Presenter

Kevin M. Folta​​ Kevin M. Folta is a Professor in the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida. His research program examines how light signals are sensed in plants and how different parts of the spectrum can change shelf life and high-value fruit and vegetable traits. His group also uses novel genomics approaches to identify genes related to flavor and disease resistance. He has been recognized for his efforts in science communication, with lectures and workshops that guide scientists and agricultural producers in changing public perception about food production. He has been recognized with the prestigious CAST Borlaug Award in Agricultural Communications in 2016, the Ag Pro Person of the Year in 2017, and the American AgriWomen Association Vertas Award winner in 2019. PhD from the University of Illinois at Chicago (1998).​

Contact Information:
Email: kfolta@ufl.edu


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