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September 16, 2003

Panel at Smith to Address Pros and Cons of Genetically Modified Foods

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. -- Are genetically modified foods a solution to world hunger or one more step along the path to environmental degradation?

At 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 2, an agricultural scientist, political activist and Worldwatch Institute researcher will gather at Smith College to discuss this question and others relating to the ever increasing use of biotechnology in agricultural practices in the U.S. and around the world.

Laurie Sanders, host of WFCR Radio's "Field Notes," will moderate the panel, which will take place in the Leo Weinstein Auditorium, Wright Hall. The event is free, open to the public and wheelchair accessible.

Panelist Brian Halweil is a senior researcher at Worldwatch Institute, a research organization focusing on the issues of environmental sustainability and social justice. He has traveled extensively in Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and Africa, learning indigenous farming techniques and promoting sustainable food production. He recently testified before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Foreign Relations on the role of biotechnology in combating poverty and hunger in the developing world. He holds a bachelor of science degree in earth systems and biology from Stanford University and has completed research and fieldwork at the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at the University of California, Davis.

As professor in plant molecular genetics and director of the Center for Plant Biotechnology Research at Tuskegee University, panelist C. S. Prakash oversees research on food crops of importance to developing countries and the training of scientists and students in plant biotechnology. His research interests include studies on transgenic plants, gene expression and plant genomics. He has received funding for his research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the U. S. Agency for International Development and UNESCO. He is currently the principal investigator of a USAID-funded project to promote biotechnological awareness in Africa.

Panelist Jeffrey M. Smith is the author of "Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies about the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods We're Eating," published this month by Chelsea Green Publishing. Smith has been involved with questions regarding the health and safety of genetically modified foods for nearly a decade. In 1998, he ran for Congress to raise public awareness about the issue. He is the founding director of the Institute for Responsible Technology and a member of the Sierra Club Genetic Engineering Committee.

For more information about this event, contact Joanne McMullin, coordinator for Smith's Environmental Science and Policy program at (413) 585-3951 or


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