Reason #5: The Grant

Overnight, Biofortified gained a few more votes, strolling up to 824 votes so far. Our competitor, the Non-GMO Project has 346 votes, and has been gaining faster than we have in the last day. And I just discovered last night that a stealth competitor that no one noticed has rapidly gained votes. On Monday it was at 2 votes, last night when I saw it it was at 218 votes. Right now it has passed the Non-GMO Project and is sporting 368 total votes!
This entry is the Orwellian-named Campaign for Healthier Eating in America, an initiative started by dance instructor and author Jeffrey Smith. Orwellian? Oh yes, it isn’t about getting people to eat more vegetables and cut down on saturated fat – it is about getting people to eat blue corn instead of yellow corn to avoid GE crops. In fact, on their website, Smith explains how manufacturers can advertise in his ‘shopping guide,’ for a nominal fee of course. What does the money go to?
Interestingly, Smith is on the Communications Committee of the Non-GMO Project.
Anyway, for my final reason why I think Biofortified deserves your vote, I will briefly discuss the grant that comes with the grand prize. When we entered, there was no such grant being awarded. Consequently after it was added, we have thought about what we would want to do with that money. Here are some of the ideas that we have come up with.
First, there is the constant cost of hosting the site and renewing the domain name. Currently, these costs are footed by myself, and this would relieve me of that pressure on my poor-grad-student finances. These aren’t very much, though so it leaves the vast majority of the grant money for other things.

Frank: "And what about my wardrobe and travel budget?"
Frank: "And what about my wardrobe and travel budget?"

Second, we would like to edit and upload some videos about the things we study, and issues we feel are important. A good video editing program would be a very nice thing to have to accomplish that. Windows movie maker just doesn’t cut it!
How about goodies to award to our readers? Periodic contests to win a book, DVD, T-shirt, sack of seeds or other creative prize might get the discussion going on this site. It would also be nice to give something to some of our guest contributors to thank them for their efforts.
And what about T-shirts? I have a T-shirt design in mind for a future fundraiser, and having some starting cash to buy the necessary supplies could make it possible to keep the wheels of Biofortified greased indefinitely.
Finally, we have the potential to significantly expand our capabilities to include more contributors to the blog. There is a plugin for WordPress, the program that runs this site, that can automatically grab posts from other feeds and repost them here. The problem is that the formatting of those posts will look very odd in our site. However, I have been in contact with the author of the plugin, and he is willing to specially tweak it to match our needs. It just might take a little money to do that.
So you can see, we have some ideas as to what we would do with the fortuitously-added $1,500 grant that comes with the grand prize. A Vote for Biofortified can be seen as a vote in favor of bringing these things to our site, to benefit our readers and the overall discussion. Let’s keep the pressure on and stay well ahead of the other entries. There are five hours left to vote – do it for the grant! Be a part of this victory!
Thanks for your support.

Written by Karl Haro von Mogel

Karl Haro von Mogel serves as BFI’s Director of Science and Media and as Co-Executive Editor of the Biofortified Blog. He has a PhD in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics from UW-Madison with a minor in Life Sciences Communication.

13 comments

  1. I didn’t know about the blue corn thing. I like blue corn too, but probably for different reasons than theirs.
    While I was harvesting I was thinking about tightly linking transgenes to obvious visual traits like blue pigment in seeds that wouldn’t affect processing but that could identify seeds that contain the transgene. That way, if farmers are concerned with contamination, all they have to do is look at the seeds. This could be a positive thing too, for farmers who want to plant transgenic seeds, they could check to make sure their seed company is telling the truth and how many of the seeds in the bag don’t have the gene they want. Alternatively, you could make a gene fusion with the marker and the gene of interest so you know for sure they are always expressed together. In either case, you could find a marker protein that has characteristics similar to that of your protein of interest such that when the color is gone due to protein degradation then you know the protein of interest is degraded too.
    Sorry if that sounds a little loopy, I’m coming down with a cold and am feeling very lightheaded at the moment!

  2. Oh yeah, the blue corn thing is based on the fact that GE field corn varieties are yellow – so if you eat blue you are ‘safe.’
    Interesting ideas about marker genes. I wonder if in the future if companies will add essentially ‘brand’ markers so that people know they’re eating a true [insert variety name]?
    I hope you don’t have the H1N1!!

  3. “A good video editing program would be a very nice thing to have to accomplish that. Windows movie maker just doesn’t cut it!”
    Just as long as you remember to stay away from Premiere Elements.

  4. Yes I noticed that. It looks as if they may have thought that their nomination was their entry, I noticed them updating it before the close of entries. They may have sent a confused email to the administrators who then let them in. GE Free Ireland also showed up after the deadline. The changemakers site was so confusing that I can understand their confusion. I wonder if the Non-GMO Project will challenge their entry? They may both win the same thing anyway, so I don’s suppose they will bother.

  5. Doesn’t the whole eating blue thing completely fly in the face of fears about the spread of transgenes? Although I guess so long as the blue coloration is recessive, and relying on the clear fact that transgenes obviously prevent recombination, and are also obviously on the same chromosome as the pigmentation gene, that the idea makes at least as much sense as yogic flying.

  6. Karl : Two denials don’t make a fact ,’life forms fortified’ instead of trans-genetically engineered and in the Orwellian book ‘1984’ there was the “double-speak” often a ‘non sense’ before the media ‘spin’ of the current day.

  7. Strange, pseudo ad-hominem attacks on the GE precautionary principle activist-author J.Smith for being a ‘dance instructor’ ,LOL.And one here also about Dr Vandana Shiva.

  8. Scotti, you’re funny. I mention his two occupations, dance instructor and author, and you call it a pseudo-ad-hominem attack. What’s that then? Is it improper in the exposition to say what someone’s day-job is? (I shudder to think that someone might someday launch a “pseudo-ad-hominem” attack against me by labeling me as a “grad student and beekeeper” – like, oh no, I couldn’t have someone know that I spend part of my time playing with insects.)
    As for Shiva, so that people know what post he is talking about, it is this one:
    https://biofortified.org/2009/11/terminator-2-my-mission-is-to-protect-you/
    What’s the pseudo-ad-hominem attack in that one? Criticism of statements and arguments is not an ad-hominem attack. Guess that’s where the ‘pseudo’ comes in…
    As for your continued lame attempts to find some sort of contradiction in the name of the blog, I encourage you to read the wikipedia article on Biofortification. It is a real concept in plant breeding and genetic engineering, and the blog is named after it. Nothing Orwellian there. That’s the doubleplus truth!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biofortification
    By the way the edited email address I tried finally bounced back. Please uses a valid email address for commenting in the future.

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