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Inaugural Speaker Series Program Explores Science of GMOs

September 08, 2017

The topic of genetically modified organisms will be on the menu Monday, Sept. 18, during a community program sponsored by the University of Idaho College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

The program, “What’s for Dinner? A Guide to Understanding GMOs,” will launch a new CALS Speaker Series. The inaugural session is set for 6-9 p.m. at the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre, 508 S. Main St., Moscow.

National Academy of Sciences member Fred Gould and science communicator Cara Santa Maria will speak about GMOs during the session. A panel discussion among Idaho agricultural representatives will follow. The program is free and open to the public.

UI researcher Joe Kuhl organized the program with a simple goal: “We want people to have a better understanding of GMOs so they can form informed opinions.”

Gould is the William Neal Reynolds professor of agriculture at North Carolina State University. He studies the ecology and genetics of insect pests to improve food production and human and environmental health.

Santa Maria is a journalist, science communicator, television personality, producer and podcaster. She is a correspondent on Netflix’s “Bill Nye Saves the World” and the creator and host of a weekly science podcast, “Talk Nerdy with Cara Santa Maria.”

The program will include a panel discussion featuring commodity experts:

  • Cathy Wilson, director of research collaboration, Idaho Wheat Commission

  • Doug Cole, senior manager of new product marketing and biotech affairs, J.R. Simplot Co. Plant Sciences

  • Elizabeth Bingham, a farmer and American Sugarbeet Growers Association biotechnology spokeswoman

Gould led a National Academy of Sciences panel that in May of 2016 issued the report, “Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects.” The report is available online at

The committee’s task was to examine evidence both for and against genetically engineered crops that have already been commercialized, and the potential benefits and negative effects of future genetically engineered crops.

Gould also will speak at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19, about “Genetically Engineered Pests as Tools for Applied Entomology?” in the Bruce M. Pitman Center International Ballroom on the UI campus. His presentation will summarize the theoretical, experimental and practical issues being addressed by researchers attempting to genetically suppress or alter characteristics of insect pest populations.

The Sept. 19 presentation is part of the Bi-University Guest Speaker Series (BUGSS), sponsored by UI and Washington State University. It is focused primarily on insect science. The session is free and open to the public.

More information about the CALS Speaker Series is available online

Media Contact:
Joe Kuhl
Associate professor of plant science
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

About the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, a research and Extension center in Twin Falls, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to more than 12,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky Conference. Learn more: