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Northeast News

Critic of genetically modified organisms to speak at USF

BY JOYCE MCKENZIE
Special correspondent

Published:   |   Updated: January 14, 2014 at 02:02 PM

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TAMPA – Creating hybrid seeds, grafting trees and breeding animals have been commonplace for years. And for the most part, the process has produced positive results.

But there are those who contend that’s not the norm with organisms which have been genetically modified or engineered.

Jeffrey M. Smith, executive director of the Institute of Responsible Technology in Fairfield, Iowa, and a leading spokesman on what he perceives as the health dangers of GMOs, is among them.

He maintains that intentionally modifying the genetic makeup of organisms can breach species barriers intended by nature, unlike the natural process of crossbreeding and grafting.

On Jan. 16 Smith, also a best-selling author and “Genetic Roulette” filmmaker, will speak at the University of South Florida on what he believes are the health hazards associated with artificially altering the cellular DNA of plants and animals.

His presentation is slated for 7:30 p.m. in the Oval Theater of the Marshall Student Center at the university, 4202 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa. The event is free and open to the public. There is a $5 parking fee.

Local speakers will also gather there to speak on the GMO issue one hour prior to Smith’s talk.

“We are so honored to have Jeffrey come and speak,” Bev Baker, founder of GMO-Free Tampa Bay, said in a statement. “He is extremely knowledgeable about the health risks of GMOs and we are hoping to reach consumers that don’t know about them, especially children since children are especially vulnerable.”

Genetically modified soy, corn, canola oil, sugar from sugar beets, zucchini, yellow squash and Hawaiian papaya have been commonplace in the American food supply since 1996, Smith said.

As a result, there has been an increase in the incidence of allergies, infertility as well as gastrointestinal disorders, he claims.

Michelle Johnson, a USF senior majoring in environmental science who has written a couple of papers about GMOs, was instrumental in setting up Smith’s talk at the university.

“Americans think that the FDA has done all kinds of stringent tests in order to approve GMOs in our food supply, and that could not be farther from the truth,” she said.

Dessa Stone-Pividal of Wellness by Dessa, urges everyone who is concerned about their health to plug in to hear what Smith has to say.

“In order for people to have good health, we have to have clean, organic, non-GMO food,” she said. “We are talking about the survival of the human race.”

Joyce McKenzie can be reached at joycecmckenzie@gmail.com.

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