BioScience: Communicating for New Technology

Christopher Cook

The importance of technical communication in the BioSciences industry grows with the passing of each decade. From the first hybridization of maize in the 1930s to the processes that allow genetic enhancement of today’s crops, accurate representation of the processes involved and the benefits to the end user are imperative. The question of how to communicate this information to a vast and diverse world remains a challenge.

Beginning in the 1960s, Professor Norman Borlaug of the University of Minnesota researched and bred more durable and adaptable wheat and maize varieties. The subsequent breeding and distribution of these crops allowed economically challenged countries to grow a more suitable crop for their geographical region. His discovery earned him a Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for the appropriately titled Green Revolution, but more importantly, it saved India, Pakistan, and many other countries from starvation by enabling them to feed themselves. Without the ability to communicate accurately the benefits of Borlaug’s discovery to his peers, the heads of nations, and the farmers growing the crops, our world would be tremendously different. Imagine the fears of people first learning that Borlaug and his associates physically altered plants. However, history proves the benefits of this science and the benefits of communicating this information to the public in a positive and truthful manner.

Considering the rapid changes impacting the BioSciences industry including pharmaceuticals, pesticides, conventional plant breeding, and genetic enhancement of crops, correct, timely, and clear technical communication improves public under-standing. As with Borlaug’s Green Revolution and the computer age, the BioScience age requires communication that appeals to developers of the technology, consumers, and users of the products. Fears often cause people to drag their feet when introduced to new technology. Fortunately, these fears often dissipate after people realize and appreciate the benefits of the product to humanity. Effective communication facilitates understanding and proper use of new products. Technical communicators in the BioSciences field should avoid arrogant, elevated language that can only alienate busy people in the agriculture industry.

Technical communications in the BioScience industry must scrupulously describe how, when, and where to use a product and must make that information understandable for the common consumer. Pharmaceutical, pesticide, and crop policies and procedures should be depicted in a manner that enables everyone to understand the benefits and detriments of the product, not just those in a particular field of study. As the BioScience age continues to evolve, the need for technical communicators in this industry grows.


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