Political Ecology of GMOs

A Middlebury blog


Nathan Arnosti: Contextualizing the GE Food Labeling Debate in Vermont Through a Visual Advocacy Network

Nathan Arnosti is a senior History and Geography joint major from Saint Paul, Minnesota. His mother is a landscape architect, and his father works for the Minnesota Audubon Society. From an early age he’s had an appreciation for the values of environmental conservation, sustainability, and healthy eating, and he enjoys frequent canoeing and hiking trips in the outdoors with friends and family. He spent the summer before his junior year at Middlebury working on organic farms in Italy, and plans to work on a few more this summer in Southeast Asia with his brother and sister. Though he does not oppose genetically engineered foods, he has concerns about the challenges they pose to agricultural systems, communities, and environments across the world.

Christopher Batson: A Personal Narrative on Understanding Effects of GMO Labeling on Consumer Behavior

Christopher Batson is a graduating Neuroscience major at Middlebury College. He grew up in a largely liberal, white, upper-middleclass suburb of Boston, Massachusetts, however he considers the Green Mountains his home. Christopher’s current interests include alternative economies, rural healthcare, meditation and minimalist living. He also enjoys the outdoors, good food and interesting people. Christopher has a particular passion for asking questions and seeking alternative answers to insufficient ones. As of January 2012, Christopher has been a vegetarian, only consuming meat on a few occasions when the meat was locally and organically raised and slaughtered. Christopher also has no formal education in economics. And if given a higher word limit, he would have loved to compare the differences in regulation practices between the United States and the European Union.

Scott Gilman: Deconstructing Narratives of Food Security

I was born and have spent most of my life in an upper-middle class suburb of Rochester, NY. I am a sophomore environmental studies-geography joint major at Middlebury College in Middlebury, VT.  My interest in food is largely academic, as I have no personal experience with working on a farm in the Global North or the Global South.  I am, however, a proponent of local food and attempt to buy most of my produce from farmer’s markets near my home.

Luis Fernando Sandoval Jimenez: Genetically Modified Maize in Mexico: Modes of Production and Issues of Biodiversity at a Time of Significant Change

I am from a campesino family that grows mostly corn in rural central Mexico. We do not grow our produce organically, and we do not knowingly use GM seeds. I deeply care about issues of environmental justice, recognizing that as humans we contribute to, and are affected by environmental degradation in different degrees. I advocate for a symbiotic relationship between humans and the earth’s systems, a relationship that is inclusive of all peoples and considers them equal. I am also pragmatic and acknowledge that working within the systems that perpetuate socio-environmental issues can create sustainable solutions. I presently believe that GMOs have the potential to be both a challenge and an opportunity towards achieving a more just and sustainable world.

Katie Michels: Placing Vandana Shiva

I am a student of geography and environmental studies at Middlebury College. I’ve spent much of my time here as a volunteer and co-director at the Middlebury College Organic Farm, and live in a house that prides itself on eating a local, organic, GMO-free diet. I am also a type one diabetic, dependent on insulin produced by GM bacteria. These lenses differently color my perceptions of GMOs. As an advocate for agrarianism, farmers, and small-scale agriculture, I have long admired Vandana Shiva’s work.

Jess Parker: The Rhetoric and Discourse of the Golden Rice Debate

As an Environmental Studies major with a focus in Geography, I have studied the relationship between human beings and the environment from a variety of perspectives.  I hail from the Washington, D.C. metro area, where I spent seven months interning with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Oil campaign.  I have also worked as a volunteer for Clagett Farm, an organic farm run by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.  At Middlebury, I am a member of the student organization EatReal, which works to promote the purchase of more local foods in the dining halls and fosters meaningful conversations among the student body about food issues.  Additionally, I serve on the Environmental Council’s Food Sub-Committee and plan to spend the summer as a FoodWorks intern working in Vermont’s food system.

Jessie Ralph: The Problems With Gene Flow in Genetically Modified Organisms

I am a first year undergraduate student at Middlebury College majoring in Environmental Studies with a focus in Economics. While I attempt to provide a more scientific view of gene flow by looking at case studies and facts, I am concerned with the environmental nature of gene flow out of genetically modified crops. My interests in the environment as well as my upbringing in a community that was relatively conscious of food safety and health has definitely impacted the way that I view genetically modified organisms. From an early age I have been exposed to documentaries about the benefits of organic food and some of the downsides of large commercial farming. My upbringing in this environment has definitely encouraged me to focus more on the downsides of biotechnology in this paper. However, my courses at Middlebury have encouraged me to view these issues that I address through various lenses. My positionality may be reflected in my writing.

Veronica Rodriguez: A Naked Lunch

I am a first-year student at Middlebury College, born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Introduced to the concept of organic foods from an early age, I have grown up with values of natural, pesticide free, products and produce, and an interest in “health” food. Over the course of the past year, I have spent time working on four different family-owned farms in the United States, Germany, and Peru, and have experienced a personal change in perspective with the exposure to differing values and practices within each place. I have continuously changed my own eating practices based on knowledge from outside sources, as well as from personally-run eating experiments.

Annie Taylor: The Evolution of Monsanto

Annie Taylor is a freshman Biology major at Middlebury College. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, she has been exposed to many competing views on GMOs that range from her mom’s research on GM corn to strong community support for labeling GM products. She has a strong interest in the technology of GMOs, but has attempted to explore a different area and study them within the context of Monsanto, a leader in the biotech industry. Throughout this project and the class overall, her perspective on GMOs has widened to include ecological, socioeconomic, political and social factors.

Natalie Valentin: Situating Sound Science: The Multiple Meanings and Roles of Science in Biotechnology Discourse

I am a sophomore Environmental Policy major interested in community-based agriculture, natural resource management and the role of business in sustainable development. At Middlebury, I serve on the Food Committee of our Environmental Council and work as the Local Food Marketing Assistant for our Food and Dining service. I am the daughter of two engineers-turned-corporate executives and the sister of a biomedical engineer and a conservation biologist. As a dual France-US citizen, I have been heavily influenced by French food culture. I am also a locavore (meaning I only eat local or sustainably raised meat) and love to cook!

Lindsay Warne: The Effect of Intellectual Property Rights in the United States’ Genetically Modified Seed Market

From an early age, my parents thought I was going to be a lawyer because I was always arguing about something. I am recently twenty-something Environmental Studies-Geography joint major from Sag Harbor, New York, which is a small, coastal community, two hours outside New York City. I am interested in environmental justice and urban planning. In the future, I see myself planning city parks and growing tomatoes in my apartment.

Robin Weisselberg: Public Opinion of Genetically Modified Organisms: An Exploration of Extreme Rhetoric, Online Information, and Golden Rice

Robin Weisselberg is from a small, socially and politically liberal, environmentally minded town in the San Francisco Bay Area. Before coming to Middlebury, she was involved in the Yes on California Proposition 37 “Right to Know” campaign in favor of labeling genetically modified foods. She decided to take this class in order to challenge everything she thought she knew about GMOs. Although currently undeclared, she intends to pursue a degree in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Economics. Robin’s hobbies include environmental activism, being outdoors, hip-hop dance, theater, and tutoring math students.

Andrew Wolfley: The GE Labeling Debate: Beyond our Plates, Monsanto and Politics

As a current sophomore and international and global studies and geography major at Middlebury College, I have always had a fascination with the ways in which the food that we eat is processed, transported, and delivered to our kitchen tables. Growing up in a multicultural home with a Colombian mother and an American father, there was always an importance given to the freshness of the food that we ate at home. These eating habits have continued throughout by life and have come to shape the way in which I value the food that I eat and hence the way that I interact with the local and global food systems that surround me.


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