March 19-20, 2005, weekend
March 22, 2005

March 21, 2005

One recent Sunday, Dr. Nancy R. Howell of St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City spoke to an adult class at my church about the questions people of faith should be pondering as they think about genetically modified foods.

Tomato

I could see minds lighting up as she winsomely led them through the many potential benefits (more nutritious food; enough food for the world, less environmental damage from pesticides) and the potential disadvantages (concentrated corporate ownership of the crop gene pool; long-term food safety concerns; turning agriculture in developing nations into a Western model that ultimately might make food more expensive and might undermine important cultural traditions).

If you want to learn more about this important intersection of science and religion, you’re invited to attend an event on April 9 at the Linda Hall Library in Kansas City, Mo.

It’s called “Food for Thought and Thought for Food,” and is sponsored by the Kansas City Religion and Science Dialogue Project, which I help with through my church. For reservations and more details (including a modest fee for lunch), call Marsha Kirsch at the church, 816-363-1300.

We’ve lined up three excellent speakers, who will begin about 9 a.m.

The event should end by 3 p.m.

The speakers will be C. Dean Freudenberger, who has been a student of agronomy and ethics for more than 40 years. He holds degrees from California State Polytechnic University, San Louis Obispo, Calif., and Boston University. Most recently he has taught at the Claremont School of Theology, Claremont, Calif. He is the author of many publications including Global Dust Bowl (1990) and Food for Tomorrow? (1984).

Another speaker will be Wes Jackson, president of the Land Institute in Salina, Kan. He has degrees from Kansas Wesleyan, the University of Kansas and North Carolina State University. He founded the Land Institute in 1976 to seek an alternative to annual planting of field crops.

Jackson is the author of several books including New Roots for Agriculture and Becoming Native to This Place and is widely recognized as a leader in the international movement for a more sustainable agriculture.

Also speaking will be Forrest G. Chumley, chief operating officer of Kansas State University’s Agricultural Experiment Station. Chumley, a professor of plant pathology, will offer industry and academic views about genetically modified foods. He has degrees from Johns Hopkins University and the University of California-Berkeley.

It should be a fascinating day that will enlighten and challenge everyone.

See my "About" page to find out how to read online what I've written for The Kansas City Star.

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