GMOs in the Spotlight

Our co-op is joining others from around the country to raise awareness about GMOs and the Just Label It Campaign in October.  Our Co+op Deals sales flyer explains more about this and we also have an article in our current newsletter.

just label

Our monthly lecture series, “Beers to Your Health” at the Fort George will also put genetically modified organisms in the spotlight, looking at multiple sides of the controversial issue in a series of two lectures.  GMOs are plants or animals of which scientists have altered the genes with DNA from different species of organisms, bacteria, or viruses to gain traits such as resistance to disease or tolerance of pesticides.  GMOs are present in many conventional foods on US supermarket shelves, but some people question potential health risks, environmental harm, plus farmer and consumer rights. 

Japan suspended buying certain varieties of wheat from the US after experimental genetically modified wheat created by Monsanto Co. mysteriously appeared on an Oregon farm last spring.  The US Department of Agriculture has never approved any strains of GMO wheat to be grown in our country, and is investigating how this breach happened.  A Monsanto representative speculated that anti-biotech activists stole some of the GMO wheat and planted it to create problems for his company.   

Meantime reporters called on an expert from Oregon State University for perspective on how the GMO wheat ended up on the field.  Professor of Wheat Breeding and Genetics, Robert Zemetra, contradicted Monsanto’s theory.  He thinks it was an ordinary mistake.  Zemetra says it was his “15 minutes of fame” when he was quoted in Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, on NPR, and other world media outlets. 

Zemetra will travel from Corvallis to Astoria to speak on GMOs from a scientific standpoint.  Much of his current research focuses on developing new varieties of wheat for Oregon.  He also has a special project to look at modern versus traditional strains of wheat and its effect on gluten intolerance and Celiac disease.  In his presentation, he plans to explain what it means when a plant is genetically engineered and then answer questions.  He believes the science is safe when it comes to human consumption.

“My attitude is that people who don’t want GMO’s for whatever reason, that’s fine, but you can’t justify something on no science or bad science,” Zemetra said.

You can hear Zemetra’s presentation on GMO’s, Thursday October 10th at the Fort George Lovell Showroom, located at 426 14th Street in Astoria.  Doors open at 6 p.m. with food and drinks available from the Taproom.  The lecture starts at 7 p.m. and lasts for an hour.  It is free and open to all ages.

The Co-op will hold a second lecture on GMO’s December 12th, focusing on consumer concerns of genetically modified food.