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Center for Policy Studies

Public Affairs Discussion Group

Perspectives on Genetically-Modified Food

Chris Cullis, Ph.D. - Professor and Chair, Department of Biology at Case Western Reserve University

Mary Holmes - Co-founder of the North Union (Shaker Square) Farmers Market
Friday March 8, 2013
12:30-1:30 p.m.
Dampeer Room
Kelvin Smith Library
Case Western Reserve University

Dear Colleagues:

The Center for Science in the Public Interest reports that 70 percent of processed foods in the United States contain at least one ingredient from genetically engineered (GE) crops. Is this a problem?

In November California Issue 37, which would have required that food labels include whether the product included Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO), lost by 53 - 47%. So clearly some people at least thought they should be informed - while others (not coincidentally including major agribusinesses) disagreed.

Regulation of GMO foods in the U.S. is weak, scattered, barely exists. The European Union, however, requires approval from the European Food Safety Agency before a product can be used in food, for feed, or cultivated; and EFSA has approved very few crops. Even when a crop has been approved, such as Monsanto's MON 810 insect-resistant maize, some nations have imposed domestic bans. The words, "genetically modified," or "produced from genetically modified (name of the organism)" must be "clearly visible on the labeling" of food and feed products.

What are the issues and what is the science? To discuss this topic we're very pleased to welcome Chris Cullis, Chair of CWRU's Department of Biology, and Mary Holmes, co-founder of the Shaker Square farmers market.

Participants who would like to check out some information beforehand might have a look at

All best regards,
Joe White
Luxenberg Family Professor of Public Policy and Director, Center for Policy Studies

About Our Guests...

Chris Cullis is interested in the mechanisms by which DNA within the cell can change rapidly, particularly in response to external stimuli. The model systems, all plant based, that are the basis for these investigations are the heritable mutations in flax in response to the external environment and the appearance somaclonal mutations after plants have been taken through a cycle of tissue culture and regeneration.

Flax has been shown to be especially prone to genomic destabilization by the external growing environment. Specific labile regions of the genome have been identified, using genomic subtraction methods, and their characteristics are being described to gain an insight into the mechanisms by which these variants are generated. One particular labile region involves the site-specific insertion of a novel sequence that is assembled in response to the environmental growth conditions, and confers an adaptive advantage under certain growth conditions. Professor Cullis is interested in developing a flax genome project to elucidate these global genomic changes.

The characterization of the genomic responses to tissue culture stress leading to somaclonal variation will be useful in developing stable transgenic crops as well as for quality control of in vitro produced plants.

Mary Holmes has been involved with the local food movement in Cleveland since 1994 when she co-founded the North Union Farmers’ Market in Shaker Square. She served as that organization’s board president for eight years. In 2005, she wrote a report for The Farmland Center, “Entrepreneurial Farming: Part of the Plan for Economic Prosperity in Northeast Ohio.” In 2006 she became a SAGES Fellow at Case Western Reserve University where she teaches an undergraduate seminar on the topic of changes to the American food system and diet since World War II and the promise of sustainable agriculture. She is currently board president of Innovative Farmers of Ohio, a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to sustainable farming in Ohio. As an independent consultant, Mary has worked primarily with non-profits leading strategic planning and new product development efforts. Mary received her BA in American Studies from the University of Michigan, an MAT degree from Johns Hopkins University, and an MBA from Harvard University.

Parking Possibilities

We regret that there is no convenient free parking, especially with the current construction on Bellflower. The closest lot is the Severance garage, which can be entered from East Boulevard. One can avoid going outside the garage by using an entry door to the library that is just northeast of the main parking lot entrance from East Boulevard. It leads to an elevator which goes to the library entrance. You can also go up the stairway or elevator labeled "Thwing Center," from which it is a short walk to the library. Another possibility is the parking lot of the Church of the Covenant on Euclid, which can be entered from the north side of Euclid Ave, opposite Cornell Road. Visitors would walk west on Euclid, past the Thwing Center, and then follow the walkway to the library entrance.

Friday Lunch Upcoming Topics and Speakers:

March 15: Spring Break - No Discussion

March 22: Shale Gas: Opportunities and Challenges. David Zeng, Frank H. Neff Professor and Chair, Department of Civil Engineering

March 29: International Development Assistance in Public Health. Bill Goldman, retired foreign service officer with USAID

April 5: Military Ethics and Dehumanizing the Enemy. With Anthony Jack, Assistant Professor of Cognitive Science, Philosophy, and Psychology and Shannon French, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Inamori Professor of Ethics.
***Special Location: Inamori Center, Crawford Hall Room 9***

April 12: The New Cuyahoga County Government: Perspective from the Council. Julian Rogers, Councillor for District 10

April 19: Mass Murder for the Media: The Breivik Case in Norway. Mark Turner, Institute Professor and Professor of Cognitive Science
***Special Location: Inamori Center, Crawford Hall Room 9***

April 26: Advocacy for Children, Who Don't Vote. Doug Imig, Professor of Political Science, University of Memphis
March 5, 2013

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Upcoming Events

Navigating Troubled Waters: The Battle for Labor Law and Workers Rights

Wilma Liebman J.D., Professorial Lecturer, George Washington University Law School Former Chairman, National Labor Relations Board, Tuesday March 19, 2013, 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Moot Courtroom (A59), Case Western Reserve University School of Law, 11075 East Blvd, Cleveland, OH 44106. Sponsored by the Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Conflict & Dispute Resolution.

President Obama designated Wilma B. Liebman Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in January 2009. After serving three terms, she became a Professorial Lecturer in Law at George Washington University Law School. Prior to joining the NLRB in 1997, Ms. Liebman was Deputy Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS). She acted as chief operations officer of this federal agency, overseeing arbitration, alternative dispute resolution, international affairs and labor-management cooperation grants programs. In addition, Ms. Liebman advised the FMCS Director on issues involving major labor disputes and participated in significant negotiations. Prior to that, Ms. Liebman was Labor Counsel for the Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen, Legal Counsel to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and staff attorney with the NLRB. She received an A.B. from Barnard College and her J.D. from George Washington University. Ms. Liebman is a fellow of The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, the American Law Institute, and past elected member of the Executive Board of the Industrial Relations Research Association.

The Long Reach of Early Childhood Poverty

Ariel Kalil, Ph.D., Professor, Director, Center for Human Potential and Public Policy, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago, Thursday March 21, 2013, 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Community Studies Center (formerly Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations) Room 115, Sponsored by the Schubert Center for Childhood Development. Co-sponsored by Policy Matters Ohio, Invest in Children, CWRU Weatherhead School of Management, and the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development at CWRU Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.

Kalil will describe income- and education-related skill gaps in child development and discuss the role of parenting and home environments in accounting for these gaps. Innovative two-generation strategies to improve parents' teaching and children's learning will also be presented for discussion. Community respondents, to be announced, will join the talk to discuss policy and practice implications.

March 2013








































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