Understanding and Addressing the Anti-GE Critique

Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture’s Earth Day Symposium:
Understanding and Addressing the GE Crop Critique
April 25, 2013 University of Illinois, Illini Union Room 314A

The event is free and open to the public but registration is encouraged

11:00- 11:25doug
Dr. Doug Gurian-Sherman
Beyond the hype: What have we learned from 17 years of agricultural genetic engineering
Dr. Doug Gurian-Sherman is a senior scientist in the Food & Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) where he focuses on agricultural biotechnology and sustainable agriculture. He will provide an evaluation of the current role of GMOs in US agriculture, and discuss why they are not, on balance, improving sustainability. Doug is the author of numerous papers and reports, including No Sure Fix: Prospects for Reducing Nitrogen Fertilizer Pollution through Genetic Engineering, Failure to Yield: Evaluating the Performance of Genetically Engineered Crops, and CAFOs Uncovered: The Untold Costs of Confined Animal Feeding Operations. He formerly served as senior scientist at the Center for Food Safety in Washington, DC., was founding co-director and science director for the biotechnology project at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and worked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) where he was responsible for assessing human health and environmental risks from transgenic plants and microorganisms and developing biotechnology policy. Before joining the EPA, he worked in the Biotechnology Group at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He served on the Food and Drug Administration’s inaugural advisory food biotechnology subcommittee. Doug has a doctorate in plant pathology from the University of California Berkeley.

Professor Mike Gray
Lessons from the Past Ignored: Western Corn Rootworms and Resistance to Bt
Mike will discuss some of the unintended consequences of GE crops and provide his recommendations for how to move forward to best take advantage of molecular tools to secure sustainable production. His research and extension interests have revolved around the management of the western corn rootworm, especially its adaptation to crop rotation. Mike is frequently invited to discuss integrated pest management (IPM) issues on national and regional levels related to corn and soybean insect management. In 2008, Mike began serving as a program leader in the Energy and BioSciences (EBI) Institute at the University of Illinois. His EBI team is focused on discovering pests that influence the biomass production of perennial grasses such as switchgrass and Miscanthus that may be used as feedstocks for biofuels in the future. In 2008, it was Mike’s honor to serve as President of the Entomological Society of America, the largest professional society of entomologists in the world. He currently serves as a Professor in the Department of Crop Sciences and as Assistant Dean for the Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Program, College of ACES, University of Illinois.

Mary-Howell Martens
Why organic farmers don’t want GMOs on their farms
She will share her experiences and explain challenges to organic co-existence with conventional agriculture. She is an organic farmer who currently serves on the Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture (AC21). She farms and owns and operates Lakeview Organic Grain, an organic grain/feed business, in New York along with her husband Klaas Martens and three children. They have been farming organically since 1993 and currently raise 1400 acres of organic corn, soybeans, small grains, field peas, winter peas, dark red kidney beans, and edamame soybeans along with organic cows, pigs, chickens. The Martens have won numerous awards including the 2008 Patrick Madden Award for stewardship, the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture leadership award, and EcoFarm’s prestigious ‘Sustie’ award. Mary-Howell has written about farming and organic agriculture for ACRES USA and Rodale Institutes New Farm Magazine. She has testified before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture and served on the Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Science Dean’s Advisory Committee, the New York Agriculture and Markets Organic Agriculture Advisory Committee, and her county Farm Bureau’s Board of Directors.
12:15-12Gerhart U. Ryffel:40
Professor Gerhart Ryffel
Orgenic plants, gene manipulated plants compatible with organic farming
Gerhart is a molecular biologist who worked at the Institut für Zellbiologie (Tumorforschung), Universitätsklinikum Essen, in Essen, Germany. His main research concentrated on gene regulation in normal and defective development using cell cultures and transgenic frogs. In the last few years he became interested in the discussion on the potential of GMO in agriculture. Dr Ryffel proposes to develop ‘orgenic plants’ which are a new category of GM plants based on new technologies that he asserts are compatible with organic farming. These orgenic plants do not contain herbicide resistance genes to avoid herbicide application in agriculture. Furthermore, they either contain genes that are naturally exchanged between species, or are sterile to avoid outcrossing if they received a transgene from a different species. He hopes these GM plants will be acceptable to most skeptics of GM plants and facilitate the use of innovative new crops.

Len's sweet corn (3)12:40-1:05
Leon Corzine
Biotechnology: my family, my farm, my customer, our future                                                                                      Leon is a family farmer who lives and works in Assumption IL, he is the former president of the National Corn Growers Association.  He currently serves on the Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture (AC21) and on the National Corn Growers Association’s Relations Committee and as chairman of the Biotechnology Working Group.

Reception with refreshments

Panel Discussion

If you would like to submit a question to the panel in advance please email ASAP@illinois.edu by April 20. Questions from the floor will also be welcome.