Thursday, October 30, 2014

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Panel Discussion on Genetically Modified Organisms Set For April 23

Genetically modified organisms – what they are, the science behind them and the benefits and risks associated with them – will be the topic of a panel discussion hosted by the University of Virginia Food Collaborative and the Department of Environmental Sciences in the College of Arts & Sciences. The free, public talk will be held Tuesday at 6 p.m. in room 101 of Nau Hall, 1550 Jefferson Park Ave.

The featured panelists are scheduled to include Eric Hallerman, professor and chair of the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech; Jean Halloran, director of Food Policy Initiatives at the Consumers Union; Manuel Lerdau, U.Va. professor of environmental sciences and biology; and Michael Rodemeyer, executive director of U.Va.’s Science and Technology Policy Internship Program.

The panelists, all grounded in science, will address what genetically modified foods are, the science behind them, their safety or lack thereof, benefits and risks, and current research.

“Some food stores, including Whole Foods, have publicly committed to labeling all GMO products within the next five years, therefore labeling may soon become a decision point for consumers,” said Lerdau, who serves on the U.Va. Food Collaborative steering committee. “We hope that this open forum will give people the tools they need to make decisions regarding GMOs and other products.”

The event is co-sponsored by Whole Foods of Charlottesville, which will provide snacks.

Parking is available on Brandon Avenue (off Jefferson Park Avenue near the South Lawn) or in the Central Grounds garage.

The Food Collaborative, which includes faculty, staff, students and community members, works to promote research, teaching and community engagement around issues of food, agriculture and sustainability. Its current research focuses on farmers’ markets, schoolyard gardens, food deserts, local food heritage and other topics. The Food Collaborative sponsors talks, panel discussions and film screenings, and provides a focal point for University and community efforts to study and improve regional and local food systems.

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