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Connect with Our Experts: GMO Resources on Science, Politics, Ecology

Stacy Malkan  |  February 2014

Please comment on this post below and share your thoughts at #GMOtalk! Thanks to our 9,500 registrants!

whose responsibleWhat’s going on with GMOs in our food? I was inspired to create the GMOs What You Need to Know virtual conference because it’s getting harder to find unbiased information about GMOs in the media. 

Why? As Monsanto’s director of communications Phil Angell told Michael Pollan in 1998, “Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job.”

Yet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s 1992 policy on GMO foods states, “Ultimately, it is the food producer who is responsible for assuring safety.” 

So who's in charge here? These days, Monsanto assures safety with a multi-million-dollar PR campaign to counter the growing public demand for GMO labeling (see my article in Civil Eats for more on that).

To cut through the confusion, we created the GMO virtual conference so you can hear directly from the experts, many of whom have spent their careers studying the science and working in the field.

Here are resources from GMO experts. Please comment on this blog to let us know what you thought about the conference, ask our experts questions, or add your own favorite resources. Let’s keep learning together.

To the Healthy Food Revolution!

GMO Science, Health and the Environment

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, PhD, senior scientist, Pesticide Action Network 

Michael Hansen, PhD, senior scientist, Consumers Union

Thierry Vrain, PhD, former head of biotechnology, Agriculture Canada

Belinda Martineau, PhD, molecular geneticist, author, helped develop first GMO food

Michelle Perro, MD, pediatrician, Institute for Health and Healing 

More science resources:

Moms Rise Up to Build a Healthy Food Movement

Robyn O’Brien, author,

Pamm Larry, founder, LabelGMOs

Lisa Archer, Friends of the Earth

Kristi Marsh, author,

Lisa Bronner, Going Green with a Dr. Bronner Mom

Inside the Fight for GMO Labeling 

Dave Murphy, founder, Food Democracy Now!

Michele Simon, public health lawyer, author,

Miguel Robles, founder, Biosafety Alliance, Justice Begins with Seeds Conference 

Grant Lundberg, CEO Lundberg Family Farms

Trudy Bialic, PCC Natural Markets, co-chair of Washington State I-522

Ecology, Justice and the Future of Food

Jaydee Hanson, Center for Food Safety

Gopal Dayaneni, founder, Movement Generation

Zack Kaldveer, Organic Consumers Association

Arran Stephens, CEO, Nature's Path 

Visit our conference Facebook page: GMOs What You Need to Know and keep tweeting with me @StacyMalkan #GMOtalk 

Comments (10)

  1. Marvin Feil:
    Jan 30, 2014 at 06:08 PM

    I do not understand why people argue about GMO safety. That is an issue that can be argued, so why waste your breath? I do not see how anyone can argue against labeling. It is no different than labeling as organic, vegan, vegetarian, free range, halal or kosher. Those who care about that property will buy products that meet their needs, others will have a choice. When presented that way, it will be hard to argue against labeling. I would appreciate comment on this proposal.

  2. Stacy Malkan:
    Jan 30, 2014 at 06:23 PM

    I agree with you Marvin that it's easier to talk about labeling and that most people are in agreement - polls show that 90% of Americans support GMO labeling. However, we just lost two ballot initiatives on GMO labeling because labeling opponents (after spending $70 million) convinced enough voters that it's too hard, costly, or unnecessary to label. So I think it's important to broaden the discussion. As we discussed in the conference, there are many reasons why people want the right to know about GMOs - questions about health impacts, environmental and social justice concerns, faith reasons, distrust of corporations. So I'm supporting and facilitating having an open discussion about all of it.

  3. Marvin Feil:
    Jan 30, 2014 at 07:40 PM

    If the poll were accurate, it should have been hard for you to lose. Be that as it may. When you make multiple arguments you make it easy for your opponents to pick the weakest ones to fight about and to add side issues to create confusion. I urge you to pick only one or two issues to make your argument. Then you would be fighting on your ground, not your opponent's. People do have many reasons for wanting GMO labeling and fighting about the reasons is fighting on your opponents' ground. I would phrase the question something like "Why not label GMO foods? Some people want non-GMO foods and some do not care. Make whatever you believe is best for your company; just tell customers what they are being offered. This is already done when labeling many products as vegan, vegetarian, free range, halal, kosher, no added salt and other types of certification that I am not aware of. No one is telling companies that they must meet the requirement for any of these certifications; we only want to know if they do meet them. Why do you object to this? If a company does not want to bother with the necessary record-keeping, then just state that the GMO status of the product is unknown. If there is a serious demand for non-GMO products, then companies will find it profitable to meet that demand, as they have for the labeling types mentioned earlier."
    There is no requirement to use any of the labeling I mentioned, yet you will find them on products in every supermarket in the United States. This is a proven approach. Please keep this in mind, in case the open discussion is not successful in attaining your goal.

  4. Stacy Malkan:
    Jan 30, 2014 at 07:48 PM

    All very wise advice!

  5. Karen K.:
    Jan 31, 2014 at 04:49 PM

    Stacy, I just wanted to commend you for pulling together the recent virtual conference. I was able to view all but a couple of the interviews this week. I think you did an excellent job of bringing together a diverse and strong group of voices to speak on the issues surrounding GMOs. I took notes, learned a lot, and gained inspiration and resolve as well. I was particularly impressed with your ability to synthesize the various speakers ideas and important points. In short, I found you to be a very effective interviewer and voice in your own right. As you did for so many of the conference participants, I just wanted to take a moment to thank YOU for your work!

  6. Stacy Malkan:
    Jan 31, 2014 at 07:08 PM

    Thanks Karen! I appreciate your thoughtful comments.

  7. Carlene Kester:
    Feb 03, 2014 at 06:35 AM

    Stacy, I repeat ALL of Karen's comments!! They're my sentiments exactly. Again, ;thank you so much!

  8. Anne:
    Feb 03, 2014 at 10:08 AM

    Fascinating series! I would have liked to see you interview a Monsanto scientist for an hour, as well. Honestly, I would like to hear more of the rationale for not testing more, labeling, etc.

  9. John:
    Feb 11, 2014 at 10:47 AM

    I think Anne makes an excellent point; it is always good to hear opposing viewpoints. The question is whether a Monsanto scientist would agree to be interviewed.

    Feb 15, 2014 at 06:49 AM

    I will send this to our Canadian, Ottawa, Ontario local chapter OTTAWA ORGANIC GROWERS ASSOC and see how uptodate they are with this.

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