As I recently took over the gavel as President of the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, I was able to reflect on last spring’s Board of Directors meeting in Washington, D.C., as well as my recent trip to the CAST office in Ames and the World Food Prize in Des Moines. I am reminded of a simple yet significant quote by one of CAST’s past presidents, Dr. Mark Armfelt: “CAST does important work.” CAST’s legacy of communicating sound science, started by Dr. Norman Borlaug, has never been stronger and more exciting.
As I visited with agricultural professionals in D.C., I recognized the impact that CAST’s publications have on ag policy. I attended a Global Farmer’s Roundtable in Des Moines at the World Food Prize. Farmers from around the world discussed their challenges, none greater and more timely than access to biotechnology and acceptance of that technology by consumers. Dr. Armfelt’s words continue to run across my mind.
CAST has remained relevant due to the work of the staff, Executive Vice President Kent Schescke, and the boards (representatives, directors, and trustees). I have been so impressed by the engagement these groups have shown and how that commitment helps to further the mission of CAST to synthesize and communicate sound science. The publication output has never been stronger in CAST, and the future for 2019 is very bright. CAST has published six papers so far in 2018, with another potential paper soon to be released. All of this year’s publications have been well received, with no CAST paper ever being as popular as Genome Editing in Agriculture: Methods, Applications, and Governance. This paper will be presented to global ag policymakers and may shape the regulation of gene-edited crops throughout the world.
As mentioned, CAST has several very interesting and important papers to be released in 2019. This is a testament to the CAST staff and boards’ abilities to create a proposal, create a task force, and keep authors on track for a timely release. When all of this happens in an efficient manner, the results are phenomenal. All of those involved in CAST have their fingerprints on publications in some way. I would encourage you to join CAST for a paper rollout if you have never done so before. While travel to the rollout may not always be feasible, look for other options, such as Facebook live or archived videos, to view the publication release. CAST, and agriculture in general, benefit when engagement and education are increased.
I’m humbled and excited to lead CAST in 2019. Everyone involved in CAST certainly feels the same excitement for the coming year. I am looking forward to increasing involvement of the boards, maintaining excellent publication output, and continuing CAST’s relevance to ag policy and science communication into the future.
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