Biotech is Coming to Save the World
But is it Too Good to Be True?
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FEBRUARY 28, 2006
CONTACT: BioETHICS 2006
Charles Shaw, Media Coordinator, 773.671.7757, email@example.com
CHICAGO, Illinois - February 28 - "Is our food supply safe?" "Should life be patented by corporations?" "Should farmers be forced to abandon traditional farming practices?" "Should the Pentagon develop a bomb that only kills certain races of people?" BioETHICS 2006: "The Voice of Reason" asks these and more questions, promoting consumer choice and the safe application of biotechnology.
BioETHICS 2006: "The Voice of Reason" is a parallel conference taking place the same week as the annual B.I.O. (Biotechnology Industry Organization) convention, the world’s largest biotech lobbying group, which is coming to Chicago April 9th -12, 2006. The city is rolling out the red carpet for the nearly 20,000 participants from 1500 companies who are expected to attend the BIO convention. BioETHICS 2006 will provide a forum for open and frank discussion of ethical biotechnology.
Biotechnology is being touted as the next big thing for the American economy, the next great hope to feed the world and cure illness, and Chicago is investing substantial resources into becoming an important Biotech center. But is Biotech all it is cracked up to be? Or are there things the industry isn't telling us, and doesn’t want us to know?
"For all its promises of turning lead into gold, there is still so much we don’t know or understand about the long term effects and safety of genetically engineering," said Jerry Boyle, a Chicago attorney. "An open dialogue between the industry and the public about the unanswered questions of safety is not only reasonable but should be quite obvious. To not ask these basic questions regarding public health is reckless and stupid."
"Our interests are simple and benefit everyone", says Chad Bliss, a community gardener from Chicago. "We believe there should be mandatory labeling and safety testing of all genetically modified food, so people know what they are eating. Why are we behind the rest of the world on this issue?"
BioETHICS 2006 will kick off with events highlighting public health, lack of federal oversight and issues of local governance regarding food and agricultural biotechnology. Panel discussions, film screenings, meet-and-greet gatherings, and community outreach will continue during the week in an effort to spread awareness to the general Chicagoland and larger Midwestern public about the realities of biotechnology and genetic engineering.
"We agree that there is great potential in Biotechnology," says conference coordinator Christine Phillips, "but without established rules, this little bit of knowledge we have becomes a dangerous thing. Parents are afraid of drugs and violence in their children's schools, but what about what they are being fed? They need to know that their school or supermarket may be serving milk containing rBgh, the bovine growth hormone, which creates other cancer-causing hormones as a by-product of its use. We don’t yet know all the negative health effects of eating genetically modified food because the studies that exist are neither clear nor conclusive."
A November 2005 study by the Pew Research Trust concluded that although 80% of the American public knows little to no nothing about Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), a strong majority (63 percent) believe government agencies should include moral and ethical considerations when making regulatory decisions about cloning and genetically engineering.
Nearly 40 nations have imposed restrictions on the importation of GMOs based on health, safety, and environmental issues, yet recently the World Trade Organization ruled in favor of the US, forcing the European Union to rescind its ban. This has caused shockwaves throughout the world community, and many member-states of the EU have communicated their intentions not to honor the ruling.