Talk targets genetically modified organisms

Author, filmmaker, anti-GMO activist Jeffrey M. Smith will speak tonight

Independent filmmaker, author and activist Jeffrey M. Smith, whose work zeroes in on potential environmental and health risks associated with genetically modified crops and foods, is scheduled to speak in Medford this evening.

Smith, who founded the Institute of Responsible Technology in 2003 to educate policy makers and citizens about genetically modified foods, will speak at 7:30 p.m. in the Central Medford High School auditorium, 815 S. Oakdale Ave.

If you go

What: Talk by Jeffrey M. Smith, author of "Seeds of Deception" and "Genetic Roulette"

When: 7:30 p.m. today, Oct. 11

Where: Central Medford High School auditorium, 815 S. Oakdale Ave., Medford

Cost: $15 in advance, $20 at the door, with discounts for students. Can be purchased at http://jclac.org.

The issue of genetically modified food continues to be debated around the world. Like Smith, some say the crops pose a risk to the environment, the organic food industry and people's health.

Others say crops can be genetically engineered to withstand insect pests and drought, produce higher yields to feed a growing population and develop other favorable characteristics.

Smith's first book, "Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies about the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You're Eating," was published in 2003, and his second, "Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods," was published in 2007.

Smith also has released multiple films on the topic. The latest is a documentary called "Genetic Roulette: The Gamble of Our Lives," based on his 2007 book.

Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door, or $8 in advance for students and $10 at the door. Tickets can be purchased at www.jclac.org. His appearance is being sponsored by the Ashland Food Co-op and Project Rogue Valley.

The bulk of Smith's work has been labeled as biased against the biotechnology industry and, specifically, herbicide and genetically engineered seed producer Monsanto Co. His claims against genetically modified organisms are refuted by the majority of the scientific community, which he dismisses as "pro-GMO bias."

Smith argues that genetically modified crops often contain toxins that can harm people, animals and the soil. He said most studies that are pertinent to genetically engineered food and its health and environmental side effects are funded by the companies that make them.

"They have bad science down to a science," he said. "There are risked associated with GMOs. "… No one should think, simply because it's been used in millions of acres, it must be safe."

Smith said the current push by some residents in Jackson County to ban genetically engineered crops is a step in the right direction.

Through its Natural Resources Advisory Committee, Jackson County has been exploring the feasibility of adopting an ordinance that would ban the use of genetically modified seeds in the county.

The committee is expected to make a recommendation to county commissioners as early as January 2013.

Reach Ashland Daily Tidings reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email swheeler@dailytidings.com.


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