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Dr. Mike Cross will discuss genetically modified foods at Nashua Public Library. Courtesy photo.




GMO discussion

When: Thursday, May 12, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Where: Nashua Public Library, 2 Court St., Nashua.
Tickets: Free and open to the public. No registration.
Visit: nashualibrary.org




Science and food
Discover what’s behind that GMO label

05/05/16
By Allie Ginwala aginwala@hippopress.com



 Providing a platform for people to learn more and ask questions about genetically modified foods, Nashua Public Library will host a GMO discussion on Thursday, May 12, at 7 p.m.

Carol Eyman, outreach and community services coordinator for the library, was inspired to bring the current-issue topic to Nashua after hearing about a Massachusetts library that recently held pro-GMO and con-GMO programs. 
“I thought that was a good topic that concerns people,” she said. “I know it’s a controversial topic and I know there’s a lot of misconception out there about what it is and exactly how you define it. Allergists have been crossing various gene strains for a long time that don’t concern people, but when you say ‘genetically modified food’ they get very upset.”
She reached out to the Northern Essex Community College Speakers’ Bureau and found Dr. Mike Cross, a chemistry professor, who will lead the evening’s discussion. 
“It’s a personal interest of mine,” Cross said. He has a Ph.D. in organic chemistry and currently teaches chemistry and forensic science at the college. 
“My Ph.D. research was modifications to DNA and RNA and unintentional modifications like exposure to radiation. I think it’s interesting with the idea of purposeful modification to DNA.”
He’ll start his PowerPoint presentation with a bit of history and background on the topic of genetic modification, engaging the audience about different products and letting them share opinions before discussing the ramifications and labels like “organic” and “GMO.”
“Most people aren’t aware that we have been eating GMOs for the past 20 years and a lot of people think it’s a new thing. Seventy percent of processed foods we eat are [genetically modified],” he said, giving the example of common ingredients like soy, corn and sugar beets. 
“Pretty much every processed food has at least one of those,” he said. “We’re already eating it so we might as well find out what we’re eating.”
Cross’s goal for the discussion isn’t to sell people one way or the other on genetically modified foods, but simply to give them the tools to make their own decision.
“Things get lopsided [in the media] and misinformation is out there … so [it’s] interesting to look at what it is and is not and discuss some of the benefits and risks,” he said.
Though they don’t make a point of it, Eyman said the library will offer discussions and events around “hot button issues” from time to time, like one they hosted previously about stem cell research and one about human trafficking coming up in the fall.
“We hope people see the library as neutral on these topics instead of seeing a presentation sponsored by an industry or an advocacy group,” she said.
Both Eyman and Cross noted that while an older demographic tends to come out to the library’s Thursday night programming, they expect to see a broader age representation in the audience given the subject’s current status.
“It’s a good way to get a discussion going … to give the facts so they can make a better-informed decision, especially now with all the debates about labeling GMOs it’s an applicable topic,” Cross said.
The talk is free and open to the public, and Eyman recommends coming early to make sure to get a seat. 





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