The Food Leader Of Tomorrow Knows How To Communicate

The Lempert Report
April 07, 2017

Two strategies for making complicated biotech easier to understand.

We witness first hand how food companies are terrible at communication. And how fake food news is communicated all too well and line the pockets of those websites, tv shows and bloggers. 

Whether its about GMOs or what healthy does and does not mean – or shoppers never believing that growth hormones are not permitted by law in poultry, we seem to have a problem with just how we need to be communicating food science to shoppers. 

Meet Christina Agapakis. In a recent article in Forbes, the synthetic biology PhD from Harvard, who researched biofuels and microbial biology at UCLA, and launched an independent science magazine, said  “ask interesting questions and tell stories through objects” Is a key to communicating.

The column shared two of her strategies for making biotech more approachable which can be translated to the bigger picture of all food:

Offer Hands-On Experiences  She says that sometimes the experiential is more powerful than the intellectual. “I’m really interested in how people might be able to engage in different ways with biotechnology -- differently than reading about GMOs or medicine,” She encourages Ginkgo Bioworks, the company that she works at, to do that through products people can interact with. Like citrus-infused beer and orange blossom kombucha to help people see what biotech can create.    

Consider Context  Even for scientists and engineers, biotech might be an unfamiliar field. Agapakis tries to remember, “Everybody is a novice in something.” Presenting a simpler version of a concept can help keep everyone on the same page. 

She advises, “First, try to understand how the other person makes sense of the world.” Think about how their background and experiences might influence their perception. Then, think about the biases you have. Ask, “What do I take for granted that other people don’t?”