Education Foundation

Education Foundation


Television Documentary and DVD
Plants, Genes and Agriculture - second edition
EPCOT Exhibits Extend Plant Science Awareness
Principles of Plant Biology -- Concepts for Science Education
Gap Analysis Comparing ASPB Twelve Principles of Plant Biology to National and Selected State Education Standards

Television Documentary and DVD

The Foundation Board of Directors approved the production and distribution of a television documentary and DVD on the history of agriculture. The film will explain the role plants and agriculture have played in the human struggle to survive through the centuries. It will increase public understanding of how important modern plant research is for both understanding how plants work and for developing the crops of tomorrow.

Kugelblitz, an independent television production company in London, will produce the film and DVD. Specializing in science documentaries, Kugelblitz has produced films for television in England, that have also been shown on the U.S. Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, WGBH and other television outlets around the world. Its recent film "Rise & Fall of GM" is exemplary of the successful films produced by Kugelblitz, that was awarded the British Medical Association prize for best science documentary of 199 and has been nominated for the best documentary award at BANFF, an international television festival.

Plants, Genes and Agriculture

The Foundation will assist in the publishing of the second edition of Plants, Genes and Agriculture by Maarten Chrispeels. The first edition of the book was published in 1994 and adopted by over 50 colleges and universities. It is intended as a text for introductory courses in agriculture, plant biology and economic botany. It includes information on plants, genes, food and people and describes the changing relationship between them. It shows how agriculture is changing throughout the world and discusses the role genes and genetic engineering are playing in these changes.

The new edition will be updated to include the dramatic changes in this topic over the past decade. ASPB will provide support for a new art program and 4-color text that will also be available for use by ASPB members on the ASPB web site.

ASPB will have the right to distribute the last chapter, "The Global Food Fight and the Urban Myths about Genetic Engineering," as a separate publication. In addition, ASPB members will receive a 20% discount on the list sale price of the book. ASPB will receive 200 free copies for distribution to organizations and individuals in developing countries involved in the global effort to sustain an adequate world food supply.

EPCOT Exhibits Extend Plant Science Awareness

The ASPB Education Foundation fostered plant science education through both the Science Jam and the International Flower and Garden Festival at the Epcot Center in the spring of 1998. Nearly 90,000 visitors learned about new, exciting plant products made possible by basic plant research.

In colorful tents at the three-week Science Jam, presentations were made and children could explore hands-on activities. Five times a day two Disney-trained graduates of science undergraduate programs gave interactive presentations. A brief history reminded listeners that people have been improving crops for 10,000 years, and gardeners practice seed selection. Audiences passed around a DNA model as they listened to a description of DNA function. "How to Build a Sunflower" gave participants the chance to "shoot" DNA into the plant to make it grow bigger, illustrating how new genes allow scientists to improve plants.

A Plexiglas box containing two potato plants clearly demonstrated the resistance of the genetically improved plant to the Colorado Potato Beetle. Healthy Bt engineered corn growing near the tent was compared to the effects on corn unprotected from the European Corn Borer as shown in a poster. The "Wheel of Nutrition" demonstrated the benefits of fruits and vegetables, naming key compounds, such as lycopene in tomotoes and anthocyaning in carrots.

The communicators answered questions in between presentations. Visitors explored several other activities and saw improved plants in the adjacent ASPB garden.

At the six-week Epcot International Flower and Garden Show, the critical role of plants in feeding the world in the 21st century continued to be a focus. Visitors heard how plant research results in increased food production and improved food quality and helps to combat the spread of malnutrition in many parts of the world. Presenters noted that the Green Revolution helped Asia and Latin America achieve agricultural self-sufficiency. Presenters explained that as more nations acquire increased wealth and need more food for their populations, there is a need for a second Green Revolution to meet a projected doubling of food demand in the 21st century.

Visitors learned that plant scientists are using basic plant research and plant biotechnology to initiate this revolution. Modern plant research approaches help to improve upon traditional plant-breeding techniques to develop crops resistant to diseases, pests, drought, cold and other severe climate conditions. It was stressed that plant scientists also use biotechnology to develop more nutritious foods, higher-yielding grains and better quality fruits and vegetables. Plants developed using biotechnology meet federal requirements for safety and nutrition, visitors learned. Visitors also learned how advances in plant research are leading to new pharmaceutical products, more efficient production of biofuels and new approaches to clean air and water.

There is a ten-minute video of the exhibit for ASPB use with the public, including school teachers and students. ASPB members and school teachers can receive a complimentary copy of the video and extra copies for $2.00 per copy plus the cost of shipping. Contact the Education Foundation at the email address below.

A two-minute video news release about the ASPB Education Foundation exhibit was carried by AGDAY Television National Network, reaching viewers estimated in the millions of households. AGDAY Television National Network includes major media markets across the U.S.