Over the past couple years the debate on genetically modified organisms (GMO) or genetically engineered (GE) in food has become the hot topic amongst those into the politics of food.
While proponents of the technology claim the products are perfectly safe, and are, in fact, needed to feed the world, activists claim that labeling is necessary, because there is not sufficient testing to prove GMOs are safe to consume -- several studies have indicated more harm has been done by GMOs than good.
With bills mandatory labeling bills for GMO foods moving forward in the Florida legislature, GMO Free Florida has been working to bring experts in the field down to South Florida for panel discussions of the political issues and potential dangers of GMOs.
GMO Free Florida organized the tour.
According to GMO Free Florida's Trish Sheldon, the tour has long been in the works.
"We tried to get Jeffrey Smith last year, but it didn't end up happening," said Sheldon. "We started working again six months ago, and two months ago we got the final word."
Starting in Tampa at the University of Florida this Thursday, Smith will be making his rounds across the state to speak about the potential dangers of GMO foods, pending legislation, and issues concerning the possible release of GMO mosquitos in the Florida Keys -- those pushing for it claim the mosquitos will curb the spread of dengue fever; however activists worry about health and environmental problems.
On Thursday, January 23 at 6 p.m., Smith will be joined by Hansen (via skype) and Dr. Lynn Lafferty to host a discussion as well as a screening at St. Luke Orthodox Chapel/Paideia Classical Academy in Coconut Creek.
The tour finishes up in Key West on Monday, January 27. GMO Free Florida is still hashing out the details.
Smith has become the leading spokesperson in the fight against GMO foods. He's the author and filmmaker of Genetic Roulette - The Gamble of Our Lives as well as executive director for the Institute of Responsible Technology.
He will be exploring what individuals can do to stay away from GMO foods in their diet, and the potential risks of GMO mosquitos in the environment.
Hansen is a biologist and ecologist who studied the techniques of Integrated Pest Management for his Ph.D.; in the process he identified a number of insects that present cause for concern. With Consumers Union he works on developing policy, testifying before government agencies, and speaks widely on subjects of food safety and environmental health on subjects such as mad cow disease, GMOs, and pesticides in the United States and abroad.
"I think it's a really exciting time right now, because we have a strong push here in Florida," said Sheldon. "Since Connecticut and Maine's GMO mandatory labeling bills passed and Hawaii saw restrictions placed on GMOs, we're really hoping Florida is the next to go; it's encouraging."
For details about the event, visit facebook.com/events/499162366798373/.
St. Luke Orthodox Chapel/Paideia Classical Academy is located at 2370 Hammock Blvd in Coconut Creek. Visit facebook.com/GMOFreeFL
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.
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