Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Bayblab podcast: episode16

A new edition of the bayblab podcast is already up (don't forget to subscribe to our rss feed)! Our new year resolution is to have more frequent podcasts... This podcast also introduces a new element in our format because we interviewed a guest scientist, which we'll try to do whenever we can get our hands on someone willing to share his/her research with a bunch of degenerate grad students over a beer. And boy did we hit the jackpot, because our guest on this episode is Dr. Ignacio Chapela. Dr Chapela was in Ottawa to give a talk entitled "Reason Exhausted: Science, environment and the end of progress" at the graduate student's interdisciplinary conference. Chapela specifically said he only came to the conference because he was invited by students, and when I asked him to be on the show, he immediately agreed. He gave us a candid and humble account of his story which is well worth hearing even if you're not a fan of the podcast, so do yourself a favor and try this one.

If you're not familiar with Chapela, he is a tenured professor at UC Berkeley, and gained fame in 2001 when he announced in the journal Nature that he had discovered contamination of native maize in mexico by transgenes from GM crops. He then became the "bete noire" of the agro industry which put pressure on the Nature Publishing Group and on his university which happened to be funded by Monsanto to the tune of $50M. Learning from this abuse, he now vehemently opposes the corporatization of universities and more specifically the recent billion dollar deal between British Petroleum and UC Berkley to research biofuels which he argues will benefit no one but the gas giant. To learn more about this you can check this youtube clip of a protest against BP or read his speech. This site also goes over some of the controversies and stories which he shared with us on the podcast...Enjoy!