Biotech forum good for all

Last Thursday, the Board of Regents approved plans to expand a research program currently located in Rosemount, 45 minutes from St. Paul. The University wishes to create an alliance between research and education programs, while initiating discussions on various scientific, agricultural and environmental issues. The benefits of such a forum would be great for all involved.
Creating a public forum to discuss such issues as research, farming techniques and the always-controversial subject of biotechnology would be a positive step that would raise public awareness and create more understanding about these topics, which should be of concern to people of all ages and walks of life. Issues such as biotechnology, research, plant breeding and crop rotation directly affect the lives of many. These issues have an impact on the food supply, the future of farming practices and on how technology can be used in solving problems we face.
An open research center will allow questions, as well as scrutiny of research practices that will stimulate an information flow with the public. This will help to avoid future polarization on these controversial issues. People who oppose such research would also be welcome in the center and would have the opportunity to see firsthand what the researchers are doing.
The public would benefit because it would gain more knowledge-based opinions on issues regarding science and research. Researchers and the scientific community will also benefit from the public’s input. Having to explain their research and techniques to the public could cause researchers and scientists to reconsider current methods and devise better ones. This research center, complete with a discussion forum, would be the first of its kind in the nation and bring together top scientists to hash out research topics.
This proposed plan would also best utilize the University’s various agricultural, environmental and health research programs. This 7,350 acres is ideal for research and environmental observation. This land was given to the University by the federal government after World War II for research and education purposes.
The current center is called the Rosemount Research and Outreach Center, which is part of the College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences. The center exists to create environmentally safe technology for land, water and air management. University graduate students and USDA faculty conduct the center’s research, in addition to accepting contracts from companies interested in research.
The new and improved center would seek out private and federal funding for additional development, as opposed to seeking funds from the University. This measure was a plus for the Board of Regents, who are enthusiastic about the project because it enhances the land-grant mission of the University. The benefits from this new center would be great, and the University should continue its support.