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Messages from the U of O Food Justice Conference

This past holiday weekend, hundreds of people gathered for a free conference, called Food Justice, hosted by the University of Oregon’s Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics. In the words of the conference organizers the purpose was to, “Explore the history and future of our food system with a focus on three themes: community, equity and sustainability.”

With a heavy hitters Fred Kirschenmann and Dr. Vandana Shiva offering inspiring plenaries and a host of academics and practitioners sharing their latest research and ideas, the event was as stimulating as it was frustrating. As Dr. Shiva so eloquently said in her closing plenary, “No other species has achieved the amazing success of depriving itself of food.” Read more

Kitchen Table Talks No. 6: What You Need to Know About Genetically Engineered Food

For the sixth installment of Kitchen Table Talks on Oct. 27, about 60 people gathered at the SUB-Mission Gallery in the Mission District of San Francisco to join renowned U.C. Berkeley Microbial Ecologist Ignacio Chapela and Center for Food Safety attorney Zelig Golden for a lively conversation about the past, present and future of genetically engineered food.

For more than a decade, one of the largest genetic experiments in history has been taking place and all of us have been unwitting, or at least non-consenting, participants. According to the Center for Food Safety, up to 85 percent of U.S. corn, 91 percent of soybeans, and 88 percent of cotton (cottonseed oil is often used in food products), is genetically engineered, which means an estimated 70 percent or more of all processed foods on supermarket shelves–from soda to soup, crackers to condiments–contain genetically engineered ingredients.

Whether it’s referred to as GMO, genetic engineering, transgenic manipulation, or recombinant DNA, the process is the same — DNA molecules from different sources are combined into one molecule to create a new set of genes. As he provided a brief historical overview, Ignacio Chapela explained that when transgenic manipulation began in the 1970s, it was the most radical change to ever occur in the domestication of food. “We’re not talking about beer or yogurt making here. When you alter life in this way [using genetic engineering], it has a universal effect on things that are far beyond what the human eye can see or the human mind can imagine.” Read more

Kitchen Table Talks: What You Need to Know About Genetically Engineered Food (VIDEO)

For its sixth installment, Kitchen Table Talks will begin to dissect the complex issues of genetically engineered foods and equip participants with knowledge and specific actions to protect themselves, our community and the environment. Two of the most laudable champions in the fight to educate and protect the public from the unregulated, untested genetic engineering of food and unchecked interests of industrial agriculture will lead the conversation: UC Berkeley Microbial Ecologist Ignacio Chapela and Center for Food Safety attorney Zelig Golden.  Kitchen Table Talks No. 6 will take place Tuesday, Oct. 27, from 6:30 – 8:30p.m. in a new location, SUB-Mission gallery in the Mission District of San Francisco.

For more than a decade, one of the largest genetic experiments in history has been taking place and all of us have been unwitting, or at least non-consenting, participants.  According to the Center for Food Safety, up to 85 percent of U.S. corn, 91 percent of soybeans and 88 percent of cotton (cottonseed oil is often used in food products), is genetically engineered, which means an estimated 70 percent or more of all processed foods on supermarket shelves–from soda to soup, crackers to condiments–contain genetically engineered ingredients. Thanks to the tireless work of GE-critical farmers, lawyers and activists, progress is being made to shed light on GE food. The New York Times via Greenwire reported last week that the USDA has been ordered to conduct an environmental impact statement for the first time on a GE crop.

Representing the scientific perspective of genetically engineered food at the Oct. 27th Kitchen Table Talks, Dr. Chapela is the lead author of the ground breaking 2001 Nature paper that exposed the presence of genetically engineered DNA in wild Mexican maize and was a featured expert in the documentaries The Future of Food and The World According to Monsanto. Providing a view of the policy landscape and the powerful role of legal action against GE food, Zelig Golden is the Center for Food Safety attorney who was integral to the recent Federal Court victory that ordered the USDA to conduct a rigorous assessment of the environmental and economic impacts of “Roundup Ready” beets in Oregon. Read more