CORVALLIS, Ore. - The Outreach in Biotechnology program at Oregon State University will sponsor a "Food For Thought" lecture series this fall, featuring three prominent leaders in agriculture, genetic engineering and ecology who will discuss the potential, benefits and risks of this evolving science.

All of the lectures are free, and each speaker will make presentations at two forums - one for the OSU science community and another for the general public.

"These are internationally recognized experts in biotechnology who will provide some important perspectives on the use of biotechnology in agriculture, nutrition, the role of genetically modified food in our lives, and environmental issues that need to be considered," said Kirstin Carroll, coordinator of the Outreach in Biotechnology program.

The lecture series will begin in October with Ingo Potrykus, a European agricultural researcher who helped develop a genetically engineered form of rice that contains beta carotene and might help prevent disease and blindness among millions of impoverished children in developing countries.

The public lecture on this topic, titled "Golden Rice: Humanitarian Vision and Political Roadblocks," will be on Oct. 12, from 7-9 p.m. at LaSells Stewart Center. The science lecture, "Genetic Engineering of pro-Vitamin A Production in Rice," will be held Oct. 13 in Peavy Auditorium Room 130, from 4-5 p.m.

Nina Federoff, a professor at Penn State University, will speak Nov. 15-16 about genetic engineering, agriculture and the public debate on genetically modified foods. She is the author of "Mendel in the Kitchen - A Scientist's View of Genetically Modified Foods."

Federoff's public lecture will be Nov. 15, 7-9 p.m. at the LaSells Stewart Center; the science lecture will be Nov. 16 in the Agriculture and Life Sciences Building, Room 4001, from 3:30-4:30 p.m.

The lecture series will conclude with two presentations on Nov. 29 by LaRessa Wolfenbarger from the University of Nebraska, speaking on the ecological risks and benefits of genetically engineered plants. The public lecture is "Environmental Impacts and Social Responses to Genetically Engineered Crops," 7-9 p.m. at the LaSells Stewart Center; and the science lecture, titled "Ecological Impacts of Genetically Engineered Crops - A Case Study of the Farm Scale Evaluations," will be in Peavy Hall, Room 104, from 11 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.

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Kirstin Carroll, 541-737-6072