Food Conference to Look at Risks of Genetic Engineering

By OEFFA

Events to Feature Center for Food Safety’s Andrew Kimbrell

Granville, Ohio—The subject of genetically engineered (GE) food will take center stage at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 33rd annual conference, Sowing the Seeds of Our Food Sovereignty, in Granville, Ohio (Licking County) on February 18-19, 2012.

Andrew Kimbrell, the founder and executive director of the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and the International Center for Technology Assessment, will be a keynote speaker and workshop presenter at the event. Kimbrell is one of the country’s leading environmental attorneys, and an author of numerous books and articles on environment, technology and society, and food issues.

“Andy’s message will be getting to the heart of food sovereignty,” said Renee Hunt, OEFFA’s program director and the event’s organizer. “Will people have a choice to eat GE-free food?  Will farmers have the choice to grow GE-free food?”

The conference is the state’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, and draws more than 1,000 attendees from across Ohio and the Midwest. In addition to Kimbrell, this year’s conference will feature keynote speaker Woody Tasch; more than 70 informative, hands-on workshops; two full day pre-conference workshops on February 17; a trade show; a fun and educational kids’ conference and child care area; locally-sourced and organic homemade meals, and Saturday evening entertainment.

On Sunday, February 19 from 2:45 to 4:15 p.m., Kimbrell’s keynote address, “The Future of Food,” will explore a food system at a crossroads. Kimbrell will describe the conflict between a food system increasingly reliant on pesticides, fertilizers, monocultures, and genetic engineering and surging consumer demand for healthy, local, organic, humane, and environmentally safe food. He will provide an up-to-date summary of this struggle and ways consumers and farmers can work together for a new food future.

Earlier in the day, from 9:30-11:30 a.m., Kimbrell will lead a workshop, titled “Genetic Engineering: The Battle for Safe Food, Public Health, and Environmental Protection.” He will describe the negative health and environmental effects of GE food, and CFS’s public education, advocacy, and legal work intended to safeguard the food system against a flood of deregulated GE products.

In response to the USDA’s unrestricted approval of GE Roundup Ready alfalfa, Kimbrell said the USDA has become “a rogue agency in its regulation of biotech crops and its decision to appease the few companies who seek to benefit from this technology comes despite increasing evidence that GE alfalfa will threaten the rights of farmers and consumers, as well as damage the environment.”

GE crops, such as alfalfa, threaten to contaminate organic and conventional non-GE crops through pollen drift, storage, transportation, and processing. GE crops have also been linked to pest and weed resistance, and the increased use of pesticides and herbicides. Recent consumer polls indicate consumer distrust of GE technology and the desire to have GE food labeled.

“What we constantly see is a failure of the media and of policymakers to really say, ‘The problem here is industrial agriculture,’” Kimbrell told Organic Connections. “They want us to see these events as scary isolated incidents instead of indicators of how dangerous and unsustainable our industrial food system has become. The sleight of hand is to try to treat each incident in its own isolation and not understand that they’re all connected to the larger systemic failures and problems of industrial agriculture.”

Kimbrell is author of 101 Ways to Help Save the Earth, The Human Body Shop: The Engineering and Marketing of Life, Your Right to Know: Genetic Engineering and the Secret Changes in Your Food and general editor of Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture.

His articles on law, technology, social, and psychological issues have also appeared in numerous law reviews, technology journals, magazines, and newspapers across the country, and he has been featured in many documentary films, including “The Future of Food.”

In 1994, Utne Reader named Kimbrell one of the world’s leading 100 visionaries. In 2007, he was named one of the 50 people most likely to save the planet by The Guardian-U.K.

All events will take place at Granville Middle and High Schools, 248 New Burg St. in Granville. Pre-registration is required. Cost for the conference is $115 for OEFFA members and $175 for non-members, and meals must be purchased separately. Prices vary for late registrations, students, and one-day only registrations. Go to http://www.oeffa.org/conference2012.php for more information or to register online and receive $5 off the registration fee.

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 About OEFFA
The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is a state-wide, grassroots, non-profit organization founded in 1979 by farmers, gardeners, and conscientious eaters working together to create and promote a sustainable and healthful food and farming system. For more information, go to www.oeffa.org.

Conference and Pre-Conference Registration

To register or for more information about the conference, including maps, directions, workshop descriptions, speakers, and a schedule, go to http://www.oeffa.org/conference2012.php. For additional questions, contact Renee Hunt at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205 or renee@oeffa.org. The 2010 and 2011 conferences sold out in advance, so early registration is encouraged to guarantee a spot.

Artwork and Images

For the conference art image or pictures of keynote speakers, contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203 or lauren@oeffa.org. For photographs of the 2011 conference, go to http://www.redplanetwd.com/oeffa/conference2011.php.

Press Passes and Interviews with Keynote Speakers

OEFFA offers a limited number of press passes to members of the media who would like to attend one or both days of the conference. We can also help members of the press schedule pre-conference interviews with our keynote speakers. To arrange an interview or request a press pass, contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203 or lauren@oeffa.org

 

Event Calendar Announcement

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 33rd annual conference, Sowing the Seeds of Our Food Sovereignty, February 18-19 in Granville, Ohio is Ohio’s largest sustainable agriculture conference. The event will feature keynote speakers Woody Tasch and Andrew Kimbrell, more than 70 workshops, local and organic meals, kids’ conference, childcare, a trade show, Saturday evening entertainment, and two featured pre-conference events on February 17. Workshop topics include farming, gardening, homesteading, cooking, green living, livestock production, business planning, and marketing. To register, or for more information about the conference, go to www.oeffa.org or contact Renee Hunt at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205 or renee@oeffa.org.

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