Conference to address pros, cons of GMOs

Connie Pettinger

Assisting producers and organizations in the management and risks surrounding genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is the focus of an ISU conference being held today.

“GMO 2000: Assessing Risk and Seeking Opportunities” will be from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. today in the Scheman Building.

The panel discussions will be targeted primarily toward producers.

“We will be addressing the market availability for the 1999 crop as well as how elevators will handle the 2000 crop, whether they plan to separate GMO grain,” said Jamie Cashman, marketing specialist for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. “The primary intent of the conference is to offer information for the producers going into spring planting. Growing GMO grain will be profitable for some and not for others.”

Twenty guest speakers will be featured, including Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge. A cross section of experts will conduct panel discussions regarding food production, international trade implications and seed development. Risk factors and legal issues also will be addressed.

Gerald Miller, associate dean of Extension and Industrial Programs in the College of Agriculture, said the organizers want to inform producers about GMOs.

“Every time a producer opens a farm magazine or newspaper today, they read differing viewpoints regarding the GMO issue,” he said.

Miller said producers will not be told what to do, but they will be provided with current information to help them make the best decision for their operation.

The conference also will be available live on the Iowa Communications Network at 16 sites throughout the state. The cost is $10 per person to view the programming.

The conference is being sponsored by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, ISU College of Agriculture, Iowa Grain Quality Initiative and ISU Extension. It’s open to the public. People who wish to attend may register at the door. The cost is $30 including lunch.

For more information, contact the ISU Extended and Continuing Education Office at 294-6222, or its Web site at