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Food as a human right and environmentalists destroying rainforests (Released: 4/3/96)

by David Pesci, Office of University Communications.

STORRS, Conn. -- Is food a human right? Do environmentalists bear responsibility for the destruction of the world's rainforests? Can biotechnology save the Third World?

These are just some of the issues that will be discussed at the sixth annual New England Biotechnology Symposium at the University of Connecticut April 10-11. This year's symposium is part of UConn's year- long commemoration, Fifty Years After Nuremberg: Human Rights and the Rule of Law.

The symposium, which typically draws more than 150 scientists from universities and industries across the nation, will include some notable researchers discussing a variety of interesting and controversial subjects:

Is food a human right? James Cook, chief scientist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will speak about food as a human right and biotechnology's role in food production during his presentation, "Biotechnology: What Can or Should it Do for World Food Production?" at 2 pm Wednesday, April 10.

Environmentalists are accomplices in the destruction of the rainforests is one of the points that will be made by Dennis Avery, director of the Hudson Institute's Center for Global Food Issues. In his presentation, "Saving the Planet with Biotechnology and High Yield," Avery contends that by opposing biotechnology and high-yield farming, environmentalists are forcing deforestation through the perpetuation of low-yield food production methods, which cannot keep up with the planet's burgeoning population growth. That presentation will be at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, April 10. Afterwards, in his presentation titled, "Biotechnology, Research Priorities and the Future of Agriculture," Fred Buttel, a professor from the Department of Rural Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will present arguments against Avery's theories.

Refuting nutritional fallacies and old wives tales. Helen Bishop MacDonald of the Dairy Farmers of Canada will offer insights on the misinformation that has surrounded food and nutrition over the years with her presentation, "Eve, the Snake, and the Apple: Nutritional Misinformation Through the Ages," at 3 p.m. on Thursday, April 11.

Reporters are welcome at all of these presentations but must make arrangements at least 24 hours beforehand by calling either David Pesci or Renu Sehgal at 860-486-3530.

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