Sat. April 22, 6:30-9:30 pm, Hilton Chicago International Ballroom, 720 S Michigan Ave.

Internationally recognized public interest attorney Andrew Kimbrell, founder and executive Director of the Center for Food Safety and an outspoken advocate of sustainable, organic farming, will deliver the plenary address, “A NEW FOOD FUTURE: Organic, GMOs and Beyond” at the Friedman Fellows Symposium at the American Society of Nutrition's Experimental Biology Scientific Sessions in Chicago on Saturday, April 22.

 

Kimbrell, a leading critic of the promotion of genetically modified organisms, says that the GMO model of food production, if adopted globally, will “catastrophically” increase world hunger and impact safe food, farmers and the environment. “GMOs are not part the solution, they are a part of the problem,” Kimbrell contends. GMOs do not increase crop yield, but instead vastly increase pesticide use while adding no nutrition or other consumer-friendly value to food. 

Large agribusiness companies push overproduction of GMO corn and soy crops, which now account for more than 50% of all US farmland, most of which are used for ethanol, animal feed or high-fructose corn syrup and other additives. “They directly feed almost no one,” Kimbrell says.

“These are commodity crops, not food crops,” he says. “Even if they did increase yield, they still would represent a potentially disastrous crop production model where the world’s best farmland is used to feed cars or cattle, not people. The proper gauge of an agricultural system cannot simply be yield-per-acre, but how much human nutrition is produced per acre.”

Fortunately, as Kimbrell will discuss, the movement for organic, ecological, and humane food is now seriously challenging the decades-long hegemony of the corporate, industrial model. Many groups across the country are defending the integrity of organic standards while also fighting against the misuse of pesticides and other industrial food technologies. Other groups fight for the protection of farmers and farm land, or focus on the welfare of farm animals.

“Millions of Americans have decided to vote with their food dollars for a different vision of agriculture,” he says. “More people are eating organic than ever before, and organic food production has become a multibillion dollar industry and is the fastest growing segment in U.S. agriculture today – growing by 20% each year.” This, Kimbrell adds, “is the coming Beyond Organic revolution. We are not consumers, but rather active creators of a new food future.” 

Kimbrell has successfully challenged federal agencies in several historic court cases, including a U.S. Supreme Court victory forcing, for the first time, EPA regulation of greenhouse gases and their impact on climate change. He also pioneered the legal strategy that led to the Supreme Court ruling that DNA is not patentable due to being a "product of nature."

The Gerald J. Friedman Fellows Program was created by the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman NY Foundation for Medical Research in 2000 for highly talented investigators working under the mentorship of prominent scientists in diabetes, human nutrition and related topics. Friedman Fellows present their findings at leading conferences around the world. To date, the program has established 57 fellowships in a wide range of disciplines dealing primarily with diabetes and nutrition.