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Woodland Public Library ‘Science and Society’ continues discussion of GMOs

April 13, 2018

Woodland Public Library ‘Science and Society’ continues discussion of GMOs


The Woodland Public Library Science and Society Discussion Series returns with Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, and a viewing of “Food Evolution”.


Wednesday, April 25, 2018 6:00 – 8:00PM

Square One @ Woodland Public Library


What are GMOs? Are GMO foods safe? The public is invited to the April 25 session of the Woodland Public Library’s Science and Society Discussion Series to consider these important questions. This session is the second part of the ‘Food Science’ segment of the monthly discussion series. It will feature a presentation of the documentary ‘Food Evolution’, followed by Q&A and discussion, in the library’s 745.5 Square One, 250 First St., on Wednesday, April 25, from 6 to 8 p.m. The moderators will be Dr. Alison van Eenennaam, Ph.D., UC Davis Cooperative Extension Specialist, and special guest Nassib Mugwanya, Outreach Officer at Uganda Biosciences Information Center. Mugwanya will be able to provide a first-hand account of farming in Uganda, one of the countries highlighted in the documentary.


When both the pro-GMO and anti-GMO camps claim science is on their side, how do we decide who’s right? The documentary attempts to show how easily misinformation, confusion, and fear can overwhelm objective analysis. Can adopting GMOs ensure that our food supply is safe, and that everyone has enough to eat? Can GMOs help feed the world without harming the environment? Are GMO foods bad for your health? Has genetic engineering increased or decreased pesticide use? And, most importantly, what data, evidence and sources are we using to approach these important questions?


Narrated by one of America’s best-known scientists, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Food Evolution looks at the problems and political controversies associated with applications of genetic engineering to stop the spread of diseases in papayas in Hawaii and bananas in Uganda, and control weed infestation in Midwest field crops. Director Scott Hamilton Kennedy talks to activists, farmers, politicians, consumers, academics, and scientists, to tease out the difference between the current dominant scientific opinion and what the public believes about GMOs. The documentary explores the doubts, hopes, and expectations of farmers and consumers about the ability of genetic engineering to produce GMO foods that are safe for humans and the environment.


Dr. Alison van Eenennaam, Ph.D., is an animal geneticist at UC Davis Cooperative Extension, Animal Genomics and Biotechnology. She has given over 500 invited presentations to audiences globally, and uses a variety of media to inform general public audiences about science and technology. She was the recipient of the 2014 Council for Agricultural Science and Technology Borlaug Communication Award, and in 2017 was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


Nassib Mugwanya is a 2015 Cornell Alliance for Science Fellow, currently working as an Outreach Officer at Uganda Biosciences Information Center, a communication hub for public agricultural research at the National Crops Resources Research Institute. He previously worked on a UC Davis-led Horticulture Collaborative Research Support Project in Uganda, which aimed at building smallholder farmers’ capacity to produce and market vegetable crops. Mugwanya has a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture, and a Master’s in Agricultural Extension Education from Makerere University, Kampala.


The Science and Society Discussion Series is a public forum hosted by the Woodland Public Library where the public and experts from different fields come together to discuss complex, controversial issues at the intersection of scientific knowledge and civic life that illustrate the challenges for public policymaking.


Examples of controversial topics are environmental disasters, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), climate change, the relationship between science and public policy, and how the public becomes informed about these issues.


The sessions provide opportunities for the public and those engaged in research and policymaking to share ideas and concerns. We hope such public discussions will become models for polite and meaningful engagement of participants with differing points of view and that they will increase understanding of the issues and contribute to more informed development of future public policies.


All are welcome to attend and we encourage an open dialogue on all the topics presented. For more information about the Science and Society Discussion Series please contact the library at or 530-661-5980.


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