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Story posted 3/30/00
Disney exhibit tells world about farming
By Dan Zinkand
Iowa Farmer Today
ORLANDO — In an amusement park where Mickey and Minnie Mouse star, millions of visitors to Disney World also can learn about biotechnology, corn borers and the world’s growing population from Monsanto.
For months, many farmers and ag organizations have urged and have heard speakers say more needs to be done to stress the positives of biotechnology to the public.
If you want to communicate with the public, Disney World is the place to do it.
“Orlando is the No. 1 vacation destination in the world,’’ says Lance LeComb, science communicator at Monsanto’s Beautiful Science exhibit. Disney does not release attendance figures, but the travel industry estimates the number at 8 million to 10 million a year, he says.
“We probably see 70 percent of those people’’ at the Beautiful Science exhibit, he adds. The exhibit opened in October and is one of 14 at Epcot Center’s new “Innoventions: The Road to Tomorrow’’ pavilion.
The exhibits range from Nestle’s “The Land’’ to the Radiological Society of North America’s “Medicine’s New Vision’’ to Disney.com’s “Innoventions Internet Zone.’’
Beautiful Science stresses the beauty of nature and, at closer look, the benefits of biotechnology. Tourists can talk to Monsanto’s three science communicators and 10 Disney employees who also work at the exhibit. Visitors do not encounter the phrases “genetically altered,’’ “genetically modified organism’’ or “genetically enhanced organism’’ at Beautiful Science.
Instead, they hear a message that stresses several themes and reinforces them creatively.
The initial focus is on the beauty and mystery of nature. Then the message moves onto the growing world population.
The exhibit includes a theater and a number of interactive, hands-on displays. At the Human Kaleidoscope, viewers bend forward at one station, leaning toward a camera which takes their photo and places that image among those of many other people. This involves the visitor and places them in the midst of the growing world population.
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