Apr 27, 2021
In this podcast, we talk with Dr. Justin Kastner, associate professor in the Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University. Kastner co-directs the interdisciplinary Frontier program, which is focused on crossing disciplinary borders, and overseeing scholarly activities for several academic units. Since food production, shipping and trade are all managed through regulation and international policy agreements, students in Kastner’s courses benefit from his experience in international trade policy at the World Trade Organization in Geneva.
Something to chew on is a podcast devoted to the exploration and discussion of Global Food Systems produced by the Office of Research Development at Kansas State University. I'm Maureen Olewnik, coordinator of Global Food Systems.
And I'm Colene Lind, Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Kansas State. I studied the public's role in science and environmental policy.
Hello everyone, and welcome back to the K State Global Food Systems podcast something to chew on.
Food production, shipping and trade are all managed through regulation and international policy agreements. History lends a trove of background and information on how these agreements were reached, how the safety and affordability of food is managed through these systems, and points to the importance of an interdisciplinary understanding of the system in maintaining availability of healthy food for consumers. In this podcast, we talk with Dr. Justin Kastner, associate professor in the Department of diagnostic medicine pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine at K State.
Dr. Kastner brings a holistic perspective of pedagogical innovation in student mentoring, co-directing the interdisciplinary Frontier program focused on Crossing disciplinary borders, and superintending scholarly activities for several academic units at K State. Welcome, Justin, the Global Food Systems podcast Something to Chew On and to get things started off, can you give us a little bit of background about yourself, who you are, what brought you to the area of study that you are in and perhaps what brought you to K State?
Thank you for having me. I am not a native Kansan, but for all practical purposes, a native on, incidentally, true to the theme of the global food system. The second Food Science son of a food scientist, dad, and my brother and I both got to grow up in Manhattan, because my dad, first counselor, who retired a number of years ago, took a job at Kansas State University. So my brother and I were born in Pullman, Washington, the home of Washington State University, the home of a really, really high end, fantastic dairy product called Cougar Gold cheese, which actually the CASPER family, and all generations and all within our sphere of influence, continue to enjoy. And dad works in Food Science at Washington statement. Fortunately, providentially got a job and moved to Kansas State. And so my parents moved us I was, I think, three months old Marine, if you can believe that. And so we grew up here in Manhattan, and my brother and I were thoroughly indoctrinated and manipulated by my dad, to become food scientists as well. And when I was in university at K State, in the late 1990s, that was the time when mad cow disease or BSE was a sort of conflict filled and trade dispute filled public health issue. And when I was finishing my time as an undergraduate at Kansas State, in the late 1990s, I was quite keen on studying that issue and other related other food safety related issues in global trade politics. And so my wife and I, we, we got married, we moved overseas, and to study that issue, actually, in the UK, did a master's food safety and international trade in London and then studying public health in Edinburgh, Scotland. And, you know, I think part of my journey has been falling more in love with the policy aspects of science, including food safety, but also more and more in love with history. And so one of the things that happened after we finished our time in the UK is I was able to work for a summer in food safety and animal disease related policy at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. And I even now, in my job the case date, I teach courses related to the work of the WTO and its principle trade agreement that governs and sets guidelines for food safety, animal disease and plant disease regulation. But while we were in Europe as you as many people listening to this podcast who relate, we just became more and more fascinated by history. So for my PhD, which actually live in Canada, in southern Ontario at the University of Guelph I, I emphasized historical, specifically late 19th century late 1800s, trade disputes over food safety and animal disease, and kind of looking at some of the policy and on economic and political precedents for resolving disputes over food safety, which I had, of course, witnessed at the WTO. And so to sort of be quick here, when my wife and I moved back to the United States, we were fortunate to return to Manhattan, and I've been on faculty here for a decade and up close to two decades, I guess, and have been involved with quite a quite a wide array of undergraduate and graduate programs, I've developed a number of courses teaching, teach a number of courses and involved with the College of Veterinary Medicine, or I'm on faculty that run not a veterinarian involved with the undergraduate and graduate Food Science Program, the undergraduate honors program, and case data lathe as well. And I'm just really honored to get to continue to help students not to put too strongly and help students fall more in love with the policy and historical aspects of the food system, which I myself had experienced when I was close to them leave.
You and I have talked in the past. And so we've had the opportunity to interact. But I was reading through this again, and kind of getting myself back up to speed on your background. And I find it interesting with the focus that you have, where the College of Veterinary Medicine fits, how did you end up in that particular college with the background and the clear understanding that you have of history and politics and all of the things that go into that?
I think part of the story is that but you know, the early 2000s here at Kansas State, there was a real movement to set up they weren't called this but you know, basically clusters of multi disciplinary research and teaching groups of faculty that were to some extent kind of charged to and given permission even to operate outside of their home departments outside of their home colleges for the sake of the wider University multidisciplinary tackling of complex problems, including food safety and security. So one of those programs, which was actually I think it was called the targeted excellence program. And one of the targeted excellence programs was for food safety and security. And there were a number of faculty, physicians and faculty, existing faculty who were mobilized for that effort. And one of the new positions was actually here in the College of Veterinary Medicine in my department, Department of diagnostic medicine pathobiology, which is actually one of the most diverse in the sense of scientific disciplines. One of the most diverse departments at K State because we have folks studying all kinds of issues, some directly, some indirectly, veterinary quite a few epidemiology minded scholars, certainly food safety, certainly virology bacteriology in just a very diverse academic department. And as I know, I'm preaching to the choir here. But you know, part of I think the advantage that K State has had is that we have been less snobbish about departmental barriers, and very willing to think across departments across colleges, and even komentar students who advise students might have in my case, I've been involved with helping mentor, undergraduate and graduate students, many, perhaps most of whom are not even actually in the College of Veterinary Medicine, in but in other graduate programs and undergraduate programs. And then through my involvement with the honors program that was exceptionally multidisciplinary, because I spent, you know, about four years helping students from all of the different undergraduate colleges at K State, feed their intellectual curiosity about a range of topics, not just the food system, but I think the short answer is the targeted Excellence Program was how I ended up being based here at the College College of Veterinary Medicine, but one incidental and collateral benefit of that is that I have become more and more conversant about veterinary history, which is something that actually emphasized in my PhD of wealth. And we have really one of the great patriarchs of the history of veterinary medicine in the United States on faculty, faculty emeritus here, and that's Dr. Howard Erickson. I'm sure you guys know and I've really enjoyed working with Dr. Erickson. You'll see him as a as a mentor in the field of that industry.
Justin, I really appreciate hearing your background both in terms of sort of the path to took to get here as well as your PhD. I studied political communication. And your story about how you were socialized into being a food scientist really reminded me that I didn't know what a food scientist was, until my first job out of college, I worked for the National Academies Association in Washington, DC, and we had several food scientists on the staff. So my introduction to food scientists was through policy and politics, but I don't think most people probably have that appreciation for the role that food science and policy the way that they go hand in hand. I wonder if you could talk for a little bit about any how you see those two fitting together? I mean, some people might understand them to be contradictory, right? Science, purely objective policy? Not purely objective? Do you ever feel attention? Do your students feel attention? Do you have trouble convincing your more science minded students to policy matters?
Well first of all, I think you and I are very unusual, and how we came to become aware of the term food science you sounds like experienced it in no an actual policy workplace. In my case, I was you know, indoctrinated by a family member. But I always joke, or I sometimes joke that most pop culture conversant Americans know food science through the National Lampoon's Vacation series, because Clark Griswold, the Chevy Chase, playing character, he is a food scientist. And so if you ever want to see the essence of Food Science, all you have to do is watch Christmas vacation, or European vacation, and you will fully appreciate the wonders of being a food scientist. You know, I think, more seriously that one of the artifacts of higher education not just in the United States, but everywhere, is that we have these names for undergraduate and graduate programs, in my case, a PhD in food science, that, yes, is merited because maybe we take courses and we are examined, and we are expected to emphasize, like in the case of food science, it's typically you know, food microbiology, food chemistry, food engineering, and food processing expertise. But the problem with these terms, like food science is that just like with any academic program, in a complex society, in a complex world, those titles will never and should never fully convey what makes you you, I tell my students that all the time, like, you should not expect the title Master of Public Health or MS in food science, or doctorate of Veterinary Medicine, you should never let those terms be the the limiting descriptor of what you bring to the table. And that's why my favorite part of favorite part of the graduate degree titles is actually MSC or Ms. Masters of Science or PhD, Doctor of Philosophy, because those convey thinking they convey a scholarly approach. They can convey intellectual curiosity, yes, about whatever the state of degree title is. But certainly not just that. And so I think in my case, fortunately, food science by being either within a narrow definition of Food Science, relatively diverse having food, microbe biology, food chemistry, food processing, but because of that, implicit diversity, there's maybe more of a openness to true diversity, and, you know, embracing all the different facets of the global food system. So I'm very thankful to the food science discipline for that very reason. And I just might add that, I think some disciplines, you know, graduate program titles, for instance, that are very precise, they may actually be very appropriate. You know, you think about someone with a PhD in say, virology that would not necessarily expect a biologist to be conversant on healthcare policy, but what I would expect them to have an understanding of the scientific underpinnings of viruses in society and in public health's reality
That makes sense, and I would agree with your virologist example. But I would push back a little bit and say that while you might not expect the virologist to have an expert, an expertise in policy, I would expect anyone with even an undergraduate BS to have enough familiarity with the way that policy is made and an appreciation of our system of making policy with its strengths and weaknesses to be able to engage it in a particular way, right? I mean, back to your earlier point, I really liked the framing of his initials that matter more than what comes after the initials.
And I think that that is something that maybe we need to emphasize more. There was an article 20 years ago in The Economist, basically, citing I think it was Arnold Toynbee, some quasi famous British historian, who said that the land grant university system was America's most important contribution to higher education, because it was all about being practical was all about solving problems. It was all about, you know, kind of technical information delivery there in frontier America, you know, in our case in 1863, and then Kansas State Agricultural College was founded, but one of the other sides of that coin in places like a land grant university culture, is that we tend to sometimes I think, I think it's fair to say, We downplay those initials, pH, D, and s, to maybe because we're trying to be practical, right? And that's our heritage. At the end of the day, you know, I'm always mindful the fact that, in fact, one of my high school buddies, his dad, who was a faculty member at K State, an agricultural economist, he said, his name is Dr. David Barton. He told me once that education prepares you for your last job, meaning, you know, when you are an undergraduate student, or you're a graduate student, you're developing the critical thinking skills. Those MSc and PhD initial alluded to skills so that as you go on in your career, you can continue to learn, you can continue to make sense use your human faculty of reason to understand complex problems, navigate new issues, like a pandemic, which by the way, I had no courses. But I couldn't take that when I was studying public health in Edinburgh, we did have courses on pandemics, but no one really prepared me for COVID-19. And I don't think anyone has a degree, master's of science COVID-19, you know, from the 1990s, right. But we choose an MSc Xu understand. And DVM is an MDS.
I love that framing of it prepares you for your last job. I think we spent so much time and understandably so thinking about recruitment in terms of preparing you for your first job. But that's not the point at all.
One of the things that I wanted Justin to talk a bit more about is the Frontier program that he had put together. That is something I remember again, in the past, I remember discussing with you and it's it's quite an interesting endeavor that you had gotten into, can you give us about a bit of background and detail on what that one was?
Yes. Well, you know, like everyone listening to this podcast, and you're, you call you Maureen. It's a common experience in higher education in academic life, and probably in any workplace, to notice those kinds of similarly like minded colleagues that we have, and then collaborate with them. When I was in graduate school, studying BSC studying International Trade politics in London. My wife and I,we lived in a postgraduate student housing complex filled with graduate students and residents from all over the world. One of my fellow students that wasn't living there. His name's Jason Nicholson. He was studying international relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science. And we became friends mainly because he would fly home to his home state of New Mexico and bring back all kinds of good southwest fare and beauty. My wife and Jason and I, we cook these meals to, you know, remember what spicy food tastes like as we were living in bland food, London. And as we became friends with Jason, Jason, I realized that we both had had excellent mentors. When we were undergrads. We both realized we had this fascination with interdisciplinary approaches to problem solving. And then we also incidentally, just both love Star Wars. So we had a lot to talk about all the time, a good reason to like each other. And so Jase, and I became friends. And fast forward 2004. I was on faculty here at K State and Jason was on faculty at kind of in a parallel way, his alma mater, New Mexico State, in the political science or government department, and we decided that we would start something called the Frontier program, and it was all about crossing disciplinary frontiers of kind of a metaphorical statement that had two meanings. One, we wanted to have students be encouraged to be intentional to think outside of the rooms stated, academic department or academic program, baby food science in case of a case State student in political science in the case of the New Mexico State University students, but also to intentionally studying issues at borders, including international trade of food, and other issues that happen at nation state boundaries are frontiers fronteira. And so the frontier party was born out of that kind of idea. And Jason and I and others, Dr. Avenues share case state, we were able to grow that program and through different partnerships over about a decade and a half, including, perhaps most notably the US Department of Homeland Security in their career development grants program. We build a fairly, you know, I don't think it's too daunting to say this, but just very, I think exceptional program of experiential learning and CO mentoring. So Jason and I would, with other faculty and universities, we would take as many as 2030 students, three to four times a year to international trade ports, used to be socially engineering groups, meaning we would have students from political science, sociology, public health, food science, different universities. And we would travel to international trade ports to policy centers to groups like the Congressional Research Service that you probably know about, Colene, in Washington, to historical archives. Remember, I mentioned earlier my interest in history. And we would just give these students a chance. It's not a course as a field trip, and chance to be with peers who are not in their own major, make friends with them. But it'd be a total geek out field trip, you know, learning about international trade, learning about food inspection reports, learning about what was in on the bookshelves in an 18th century, you know, Virginia archive related to food and health meeting with incredibly competent policy analysts and the Congressional Research Service in the Library of Congress. And we would do these trips we did, I think we've had today we've kind of stopped numbering because the program with DHS has ended, but we have probably had 300 400 students travel on these trips. And in COVID, you know, we obviously haven't been doing this, but mercifully, I do every two weeks have resumed based sessions that are similarly diverse in terms of academic disciplines, and we call them crossing disciplinary frontiers gatherings. And so we're encouraging the students and we discuss what they're learning what they're interested in the relevance of thinking across academic disciplines quite a bit on history, quite a bit on the history of public health, obviously, right now at the moment, and I just, I'm just really honored Maureen to have been involved with with Dr. Axelsson in this sort of effort, what we call the Frontier program, the Frontier Field Trip program and crossing disciplinary frontiers. And that also, we're also very grateful, actually, to the Global Food Systems Initiative case state, which did support a good number of these trips several years ago, including trips for not just K State students, but students from for his state. So if you're a pure state legislator listening to this podcast, please know that at Kansas State University, we took very much a non KSU only approach to our mentoring. And we were able to take students from just kstate for UC on some of these trips, and that was really underlining.
How do you say that those activities in that student learning directly impacting the global food system at the state level?
Yes, good question. I mean, I think that what the analog, of course, is COVID. How are we managing the pandemic? We're doing it with public and with private actors. We've got governments, we have local government at the Riley county health department involved. We also have private health care providers involved. We've got private pharmacies, private grocery stores, and the food system is no different. You know, the safety, security and operation of the food system in the state of Kansas is inevitably dependent on both public and private actors. So I would say that, you know, helping students, not only the certainly at Kansas State, grow in their understanding of the multifaceted nature of the food system, having an appreciation for microbiological science as well as regulatory affairs. You know, many students, many K State graduates are conversant in both domains. And, you know, some do work in the expressly public sectors. So one of my first mph students, Ryan Bradburn, graduated from K State and mph in food safety, biosecurity, he works for the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. And he's very much a government regulator, helping to ensure the safety and security of our meat and poultry Supply here in the Midwest. But then we have other students like for instance, me fairly recently, Dr. Danny Unruh, who actually was one of the students on the global food system grant. And Dr. Andrew now is working for a private firm. But just like Ryan is also a key player in the safety, security and operation food system, in Kansas and in the Midwest. So I think that we have to remember that. And we always said this to the Department of Homeland Security. And they themselves designated the food and agriculture sector, the critical infrastructure, key resources sector of Food and Agriculture as an expressly public and private phenomenon. And so K State, you know, in the words of my, my father, taste state, does many things well, but one thing that we have always done well, is graduate students who understand the food system. And that includes the so called hard sciences, as well as the so called Social soft sciences, social sciences. And those students who have gone on, like Ryan, like Danny, to work in public and private sectors are making a real difference. And you and I, we're all guilty of taking it for granted, but that they are the Clark Griswolds saving the day. Right? Can we agree on that? Colene?
Yeah, yeah, for sure. I totally forgot about that. It's much cheaper to go back and watch those with a whole different twists when I'm watching those movies.
Yeah, oh, man. It's funny, soft skill. Is writing. So writing is the skill that carries everything else? What's the common experience for a graduate student whether you're doing an MPH report, an industrious thesis, a PhD dissertation, even these coursework only programs at K State, many of them have some sort of writing or written product capsule, that is so good and so appropriate, because Thank you cannot write clearly without thinking clearly. And, you know, it's back today, one of my, one of the graduate courses I teach is, is a, it's a writing course, for science students, and not just food science, and public health, but certainly those disciplines. And I just love it, you know, it's maybe it's not as immediately exciting as a trade policy course, or a history of public health course, child, grateful to teach. But it is exciting to see students refine their faculty of reasoning become better thinkers, literally, because we're teaching them how to properly use a semi colon, or we're teaching them how to be more grammatically parallel in their writing. And then what does that bring along or brings along clarity of thought to begin to understand more effectively articulate what they're interested in the problem they're tackling or the solutions they see? And that is, so the essence of education, and it's a soft skill, I'm pretty sure that writing is a soft skill. I think that's a fair statement.
Maybe the moral of the story is, you're the person who was commenting where rate was right, if we think of it, we categorize it as a soft skill, but there couldn't be anything more important than those kinds of skills. Great. Let's let's go to trade because, you know, it's kind of a big deal, and it's obviously a big deal and an expertise of yours, Justin, now that I'm reminded about your experience in the UK. I wonder if you would be willing to sort of think out loud and comment on Brexit. You know, everything that you read in the mass media about Brexit usually talks about the consequences for lower economic output in the UK and perhaps in other places, or just in the increased amount of difficulty in moving products across board. But now that you're here, I'm thinking that there could be some real serious food and food safety consequences, thanks to Brexit. And I wonder if that's true. Or if there are other things in relationship to the food systems I'm not thinking about in terms of Brexit.
First of all, I'll address the Brexit issue, I think something that has to be remembered on the practical side of international trade is that at the end of the day, trade, international trade, commerce, the movement of goods and services across nation state borders, that occurs because of bilateral have to country agreements, you have to have. I mean, in addition to the private actors involved, you know, the producers, the wholesalers, the transport station, chain, the retailers, the consumers, that's all implied and necessary, but it's only when you have a government to government agreement, which was what we would call a bilateral trade agreement. Only when that happens, and trade occurred. The inconvenience for my, my colleagues in not just the UK, but also in the European Union, is that one of the consequences of Brexit is that because Brexit was basically or you know, because the UK had really been, to some extent, and in a positive and healthy way, reliant on a lot of being on their bilateral agreements being established on the basis of European Union, wide negotiations. Now, all those bilateral agreements that Britain has enjoyed the UK has enjoyed, they have to basically renegotiate, right and and this is the big consequence. And in a technical age, which we all live in highly complex age, where you have multiple categories of trade, issues of trade, technical barriers to trade. In my case, when I sitting, sanitary and phytosanitary, food safety, animal disease, plant disease issues in trade, that that effort is enormous. And so yeah, there's definitely, and I'm not making a political comment about this. But there's definitely a bureaucratic cost to having to renegotiate all this all these bilateral agreements, is there opportunity for Britain to maybe hatch some new trade deals? That's, I'll leave that to the economists to comment on. But when it comes to food safety, there's a lot of effort because judgment calls have to be made. And now that you know, and even yesterday, one of my master's in public health students, she's a government officer from Thailand came to Manhattan to do her MPH in food safety, biosecurity, and her MPH field experience was during COVID was done largely virtually, with a colleague of mine, who's one of the SPS representatives for the European Union to the WTO Geneva. And, you know, if there's anything that was very evident yesterday, and her field experience presentation, was just how her home country, Thailand has to put forth a lot of effort to be able to have a robust trade, relationship and hurt. In this case, it was poultry export trade, poultry being exported from Thailand to EU nation states. And the amount of detail, the amount of scientific and capital intensive investment that has to be made by countries to be able to trade with others, is sizeable. And then if you can just imagine if a country like Thailand, was in a situation like the UK is, and had to suddenly renegotiate with all of those bilateral agreements, that would just be a nightmare, and very challenging. So, but I think like some of the things that we've seen with the pandemic, and in society, a lot of these decisions Brexit included, are not being made necessarily unexpressed, the economic terms of the made because of issues of identity, sociological forces that, you know, a psychologist or a political science and sort of sociologists would be almost better at describing then say a trade economy coins.
Agreed. I'll come back to that toward the end. But thanks for that. Let's go to the other side of the globe. I'm thinking about what lesson we might learn from COVID. And it's spread a Coronavirus, and it's spread from China. And, you know, it's not obviously a food system issue. But clearly, like almost everything else is connected to the food system, as I understand it, the best that we understand not a closed book and by any stretch, but it originated in what essentially is a food market and was certainly spread around the globe, thanks to movement of goods, movement of trade and services. Are there any lessons that are sort of like tentative lessons? I know it's still early, but how did we do in terms of thinking about our agreements between countries and the movement of goods? Post spread of Coronavirus or during pandemic Do you do you have like an early assessment of how we did as a globe regarding trade and the threats from these kinds of pathogens?
First of all, let's acknowledge that a pandemic is an extraordinary event that is inevitably a negative event for someone. But I think one of the good news stories, one of the bright points of this is that, and I actually talked about this in my graduate course on the multilateral trading system for food safety, animal disease and plant disease is that we really saw the vindication, we really saw the value of having what I was called a rules based global trading system. What does that mean? It doesn't mean that there's a juggernaut force, policing the world, making sure that every country does everything correctly. It's about there being international treaties or covenants or agreements on what the rules should be. When it comes to these technical science, latent issues like food safety and animal disease, and the main trade agreement for that is the agreement on the application of sanitary and phytosanitary measures or the SPS agreement. One of the things that happened early on with COVID when there will these wet markets these in the market and Wuhan, but not just they're also the frozen seafood products that were being moved to large metropolitan areas. Like Beijing. There was a some alerts sort of occurred. Obviously, the news sources and people were trying to understand What's this new, this novel Coronavirus, but one of the kind of interesting but not necessarily talked about issues was the Russian Federation. And I think February of 2020. They did the right thing. They follow the rules of the SPS agreements, Article Five, which basically is is a requirement that if you're going to make regulatory changes on what you allow into your country, you have to do it on the basis of a scientific risk assessment. Okay. And this is designed to take out some of the arbitrary, discriminatory and chaotic trade practices that have plagued humanity in agriculture for years, for millennia. But there's a subsidiary or part of article five of the SPS agreement that says that when we have something new when we have a problem that we don't understand, like a novel Coronavirus, countries have the right to temporarily or provisionally just unilaterally stop trade. And then they are to do a risk assessment. And so Russia did that. They had, you know, they some of their veterinarians had gotten wind of this and they were worried like what might this be, you know, what could the spread to you know, can we will begin it through consuming certain products. And so they stopped trade from China. And, and then incidentally, they later opened up trade because in this you know, the kind of the, the kissing cousin to this as you guys all remember, early on the pandemic, everyone was hyper paranoid about wiping down their cereal boxes. I know I did that. Shame on me, right. And then but that was a kind of like what Russia did, right. They were, metaphorically speaking, wiping down their cereal boxes. They were taking extra precaution because this is a new challenge and no one understood. And it was only after the risk assessment jet eyes came in and started saying, Well, this is actually what's going on. You know, it's being transmitted prior rarely, you know, in the respiratory manner, you're probably not going to get it by ingesting, ingesting it.
And we change our behavior, you know. So now, you know, at least in the classroom, we're not actively wiping down cereal boxes anymore like we weren't in February, March, I guess, March of 2020. And similarly, Russia, they have resumed trade with China, and having a better understanding of the risk. Well, the good news story and all that is that you see the value of having science based rules, in a treaty to give guidance on what ought to be done. Will there be revisions to things like the SPS agreement? Will there be changes to say, the Paris based World Organization for Animal Health, terrestrial animal code, aquatic animal code? Because of COVID? Yes, there will be. But that takes time that you know, you get a scientific consensus. And we're still just barely a year beyond this pandemic. So I'm a big fan, actually. And of course, I worked with the WTO. But, you know, when people say things like, we don't need to have the World Health Organization involved right here, people say, you know, we shouldn't be concerned about what's going on with COVID, in Brazil, or whatever. Those are incredibly irresponsible statements. And then they also ignore what we have seen recently, and that is the value of having countries being encouraged to follow rules. And, we have a rules based multilateral trading system, doesn't mean that we're giving up all of our sovereignty to some, you know, world government. But it does mean that we have guidelines that are rooted in science, and that are rooted in good reasonable practice.
Thank you. That's really, really helpful. I think that you and I could talk for an entire graduate seminar on sort of this tension between this understanding of nation state sovereignty and this rules based system. My big question is, how do we help encourage trust in that system amongst our general population? And I'd love to hear your thoughts about trade. I mean, just as your comments here suggest, you know, public conversation about trade is not very happy right now trade sort of on a on a in terms of public discourse on a downward trend. But thanks for that happy story. I hadn't thought about the fact that the system worked, in many respects, regarding COVID. So that's encouraging. I appreciate that.
Do you have any, any questions of Colene or I, any comments about the Global Food Systems Initiative, or how what you're doing might be impacting overall. And again, our focus is on the state of Kansas and kind of, it was so interesting, listening to some of the international discussion that the two of you brought to this to this, this podcast, and it's in my mind, I can fairly easily bring that from the globe, to the state, and see where some of these things fit is from a communications perspective. And we are such an agricultural state, there's so many parts of what are produced here that don't stay here that are shared and traded globally. And it was just really interesting to hear your take on how some of these things will be impacted and bringing it all the way back down to a local level.
This is both a question and an exhortation. I think that the social justice, issues that are upon us need to be given attention. So I think, My compliments to you Maureen, for your leadership on trying to kind of turn up the volume on all the different disciplinary insights, that case date faculty and students have, whether it's food, microbiology, and trade, public health. And I think, social justice, this, this reality that we have so called Rich, so called poor segments of society that are experiencing not just food safety and food system issues, but also the pandemic differently. I think that is an issue that needs to be amplified. So you probably are already doing that. But I just wanted to ask that question.
There are things going on, and I couldn't agree with you more. I work with an organization here in Manhattan and rally county outside of the K State position that is wholly focused on the types of things that you just talked about at a very local level and the pandemic has brought out challenges in availability of food, availability of access to good health care to affordable housing, all of the things that you think that you just described, have just been exacerbated. And certainly we see it, there are activities on campus that are addressing these things. But they do need to be brought to the forefront. And those are things that need to be addressed. They are part of the global food system in a big way. These these get down to the essence of each person having enough to survive in a healthy life. And I think you're absolutely right. And I will certainly look forward to bring that to the forefront more on some of these podcasts. We've got, as you will know, we look at a variety of different takes on the system overall. And I think this is definitely a topic that could be brought forward in the future as well.
Thank you, Justin, this has been great.
Thank you, Colene. Thank you for having me on Maureen.
Well, we really appreciate it. And it was really an interesting discussion went in a direction that I hadn't anticipated in some ways, but I guess that is some of the expertise that Colene brought to this today. Thank you very much.
Thanks so much.
If you have any questions or comments you would like to share check out our website at https://www.k-state.edu/research/global-food/ and drop us an email.
Our music was adapted from Dr. Wayne Goins’s album Chronicles of Carmela. Special thanks to him for providing that to us. Something to Chew On is produced by the Office of Research Development at Kansas State University.
Keywords: Food, Pandemic, food safety, global food system, podcast, policy, science, trade, veterinary medicine, research