Genetically Modified Food: What Is It and How to Make Sense of the Debate


Taught by Shana Wright

Shana has developed an avid interest in food justice issues for several years. While studying toward an MPA in health policy, she focused her research on public health nutrition, social determinants of diabetes, and food systems and security. Her thesis work was a statistical analysis of policy impacts on sustainability in agricultural practice and crop diversity in the U.S., which resulted in original calculations of crop diversity measure for a 30 year historical time frame. Recent research interests include expansion of outlook on industrialized agriculture through understanding and analysis of the impacts of genetically modified foods on health, the environment, and society. Shana’s day job entails social science research on substance abuse issues. She has experience facilitating discussions and meetings and is interested in participatory approaches to learning.

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Are you curious about genetically modified foods? There is a growing conversation about food these days exploring everything from production to consumption. The predominant agricultural practices in the U.S. are heavily steeped in industrialization and reliance on non-organic inputs, which take a heavy toll on health, the environment, and community. This context shapes the debate on genetically modified foods by influencing agribusiness strategies, the kind of information readily available to consumers, and which policies are applied to regulate production and protect the people.

This will be a (free) discussion-based workshop, using principles of popular education. We will focus first on the facts about genetically modified foods, to understand the scope of this issue and the effect of these products in our lives and in the world. What is the basis for all the controversy surrounding these foods and how can we determine truth among rhetoric?

Participants will engage in discussion about the impacts of GM food and the wider context of the industrialized agricultural systems in the U.S. What are the effects on the environment, your health, and the future of food? Where do we fit into this picture and what can we do to shape a healthy food landscape?

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