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Heidi Kratsch, Interdepartmental Plant Physiology, (515) 294-9940
Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778


AMES, Iowa -- Gregory Jaffe, co-director of the Biotechnology Project at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Washington, D.C., will present a consumer perspective on genetically modified food at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 5. The talk will be in rooms 171-179 of the Scheman Building on the Iowa State University campus.

Jaffe's talk, "Resolving the Food Fight: A Consumer Perspective on Agricultural Biotechnology," is the keynote address for the 2001 fall seminar series, "Implications of Biotechnology for Society," sponsored by the Graduate Student Organization of Plant Physiologists and the interdepartmental plant physiology major.

"The seminars bring industry, academia and consumers together to engage in open dialogue on an issue that has become increasingly polarized," said Heidi Kratsch, ISU graduate student and chair of the seminar committee. "Our hope is that by inviting speakers with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints, we can begin to find a common ground so we can move forward with the technology in a way that is ethically, economically and environmentally acceptable to all."

Jaffe will address the regulatory and legislative changes that may restore public confidence while allowing society to reap the benefits of agricultural biotechnology. His talk will focus on food safety issues, including mandatory approval of genetically engineered foods, labeling of genetically engineered food ingredients and environmental concerns.

"Although farmers in Iowa and elsewhere in the U.S. have embraced genetically engineered corn, soybeans and cotton, consumers have not," Jaffe said. "The proponents of this technology can restore public confidence in it, but they need to adopt a stronger regulatory structure for biotechnology products and provide the public with honest information about benefits and risks."

CSPI is a nonprofit education and advocacy organization that focuses on improving the safety and nutritional quality of the food supply and on issues related to alcohol use.

Jaffe's presentation is free and open to the public. Support was provided by the Plant Sciences Institute and the following academic departments: agronomy; biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology; botany; food science and human nutrition; forestry; horticulture; plant pathology; and zoology and genetics.

The "Implications of Biotechnology for Society" seminars will be held on Wednesdays at 4:10 p.m. in room 210 Bessey Hall. All seminars are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Heidi Kratsch, (515) 294-9940.

Following is a schedule of topics and speakers.
  • Sept. 12: "Non-target Effects of Transgenic Corn," John Obrycki, professor of entomology, ISU
  • Sept. 19: "Who Put the Genes in My Beans: A Plant Molecular Biologist's View of the GMO Controversy," Stephen Howell, director of the Plant Sciences Institute, ISU
  • Sept. 26: "Opportunities and Problems in Agricultural Biotechnology," Neil Harl, professor of economics, ISU
  • Oct. 3: "Exploring Entrepreneurial Opportunities in Academics," Dan Voytas, associate professor of zoology and genetics, ISU
  • Oct. 10: To be announced, Dr. Charles Link, Iowa Methodist Medical Center, Des Moines
  • Oct. 17: "Exploring Biotechnology in Secondary Education," Forum of Iowa high school educators
  • Oct. 24: "Mass Media Coverage of GMOs," Eric Abbott, professor of journalism and mass communications, ISU
  • Oct. 31: "Biotechnology to the Market: Case Studies," Susan Martino-Catt, Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., Des Moines
  • Nov. 7: "Biotechnology's Claims: Some Assumptions We Might Question," Fred Kirschenmann, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, ISU
  • Nov. 14: "Biotechnology and Global Justice," Tony Smith, professor of philosophy and religion, ISU
  • Nov. 28: "The Economics of GMOs: Who Wins and Who Loses?" Dermot Hayes, professor of economics, ISU


Note to media: Gregory Jaffe will be available to answer questions following his 7:30 p.m. talk. For more information, contact Teddi Barron, (515) 294-4778.

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