Dr. C. S. Prakash Honored at the 2015 Borlaug CAST Communication Award Ceremony

October 14, 2015

Featured in the photo collage--upper left from left: Kent Schescke, Dr. Prakash, and David Songstad; upper right from left: Julie Tesch, William Craft, Dr. Prakash, Doyle Karr, and Kimberly Reed; lower left from left: Leela Prakash, Dr. Prakash, and Julie Borlaug Larson; lower center: Ambassador Kenneth Quinn; lower right: Dr. Prakash and Wendy Srnic.

For the sixth year in a row, the winner of the Borlaug CAST Communication Award was honored at a World Food Prize side event, and this year’s recipient—Dr. Channapatna Prakash —gave a memorable keynote address: Everything I Know about GMOs, I Learned on Social Media.

Currently the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Tuskegee University, Prakash was instrumental in establishing the prestigious plant biotechnology research and training program at the school, and he has a long list of influential publications and awards. He has presented his messages about agriculture in more than 70 countries.

Recipients of this annual award are science and/or agriculture experts who demonstrate an ability to communicate through written material, public presentations, and various forms of media. Prakash is known for his ability to deliver clear, science-based information to the public and policymakers alike. Colleagues point out that he can communicate with “every kind of audience, in every medium available.”

The October 14 morning session began with short remarks by CAST EVP Kent Schescke and DuPont Pioneer Research Director Wendy Srnic. Julie Borlaug Larson  of the Norman E. Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture spoke about Dr. Borlaug’s legacy, and CAST President David Songstad introduced the award winner.

Dr. Prakash’s presentation centered on the challenges scientists and the agricultural community have when dealing with modern media. Prakash used thought-provoking images and personal anecdotes to emphasize the need for innovative science. He also encouraged the use of effective “hands on” education. “Knowledge is important,” he said. “We need to rekindle curiosity and wonder in our young people.”

The honor is presented annually by CAST, and this year’s award was once again sponsored by DuPont. Attendees included scientists, journalists, farmers from around the world, and dignitaries such as Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, President of the World Food Prize Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, and 1987 World Food Prize Laureate Dr. Swaminathan.

The International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation organized a second session—a panel discussion about Answering the Challenge of Expo Milano 2015: Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life. IFIC Foundation President Kimberly Reed moderated the session, and panelists—including Dr. Prakash, U.S. Department of State Deputy Assistant Secretary William Craft, and DuPont Director of Biotechnology Public Policy Doyle Karr—discussed various topics centered around the need for effective communication about biotech and ag innovation. They also fielded questions from the audience.

At the end of the ceremony, Julie Tesch of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture spoke for her organization and the International Food Information Council Foundation as they announced the global launch of Bringing Biotechnology to Life, a free educational resource that aims to facilitate learning about agricultural biotechnology and its role in food production.