Marching for Science: A Bayer Perspective
Monday, May 1, 2017
On April 22, tens of thousands of people worldwide had an opportunity to join together to speak out on behalf of science. Though the movement started in Washington D.C., USA, March for Science had gained traction in hundreds of cities throughout the world by the day of the event. March for Science is a non-partisan organization that seeks to advocate for policy grounded in evidence, continued funding for innovation, diversity in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields and much more. In various cities, Bayer representatives joined the conversation. Kurt Boudonck, greenhouse group leader, and Catherine Feuillet, head of trait research, with Crop Science, a Division of Bayer share their experiences below.
Kurt Boudonck, March for Science: Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
The March for Science event was a valuable experience for multiple reasons: it drew passionate people together and placed science in the spotlight to positively impact the public, media and the government. This was my first march, so the event provided an educational first-hand account for me and my family on what marches are all about.
I’m thankful for this family-friendly opportunity to further discuss the importance of science with my children. The night before the event, my daughters and I spent time making our signs and choosing quotes to display, including “Science amaizes me,” “Science has solutions,” and “Time to react.” We quickly realized that a focal point of marches is taking in all the sights and signs and using them as a catalyst for conversation with friends and other march-goers, both in person and after the event on social media.
The atmosphere was jovial and friendly throughout the event with fun chants like “Hey hey, ho ho, science is the way to go!” It was a great reminder that science and facts are things that can unite us all. At a time where politics is becoming a point of contention, the scientific community can take this opportunity to focus on the impact we can have from a non-partisan stance.
Advocating for science and the role Bayer plays in innovation is important because it provides an outlet to have our voice and priorities heard. With fake news and non-scientific arguments gaining traction in media conversations, it’s important that we make the value of science apparent. This march allows for clear communication that science is extremely valuable for many applications in society.
The March for Science was an opportunity for me and other scientists to leave our labs, meet with the public and not let others speak for our opinions. I marched because it seems society is losing faith in science as a source of progress and replacing evidence rooted in the scientific method with “beliefs.” As scientists, we need to speak for ourselves, explain what we do and why we do it and demonstrate our true value.
It was great to see incredible diversity in the 5,000-people crowd, all united by their passion for science. We began at the Museum of Natural History and spent three hours joyfully winding through the streets of Paris.
I found the march as an opportunity to connect with others who aren’t scientists by trade yet still value the work that we do. My sister, an artist, is interested in the debate around GMOs and chose to join me to gain a deeper understanding of our landscape. The march provided a place for her and others with similar mindsets to gather with us, ask questions and gain new perspectives.
As part of the march, a few groups organized by trade unions demonstrated in favor of funding and resources for public research but they also had a statement against private industry funding research due to so called “inevitable biases.” To me, this is a clear indication of active dialogue we need to participate in around why Bayer believes in public private partnership and the value they hold. This is an obstacle that is particularly challenging in countries like France where there have been bad press against certain corporations’ involvement in research. In this critical time, transparency may be one of our strongest assets.
Join the conversation and see pictures from around the world on Twitter with #MarchForScience.