CORVALLIS, Ore. - The "Food for Thought" community lecture series will begin its sixth season this October at Oregon State University, featuring national experts to discuss issues in biotechnology and sustainable agriculture.

All lectures will be held at LaSells Stewart Center on the OSU campus on Wednesday evenings, beginning at 7 p.m. They are free and open to the public, and will include time for audience discussion. A brief reception will follow each lecture, and high school students and teachers are encouraged to attend.

The first presentation will be Oct. 20, by Dr. Mark Manary, a professor of pediatrics at the Washington University School of Medicine.

A decade ago, Manary developed a highly effective therapy for severe malnutrition that evolved into the non-profit organization Project Peanut Butter, which serves hundreds of thousands of children annually.  Now, as part of the Global Harvest Alliance, Manary is working to make cassava a more nutritionally rich and balanced staple crop plant. He will discuss the urgent needs in Africa and how biotechnology is being used to help fortify cassava and other crops.

His lecture is titled "Biofortifying Crops to Reduce Food Insecurity for the Poorest Africans."

Other lectures in this year's series include:

  • Nov. 3: "At War over Biotech Crops in Oregon" by Esther McGinnis, an attorney and researcher in applied plant sciences and 2009-10 fellow at the Consortium on Law and Values, University of Minnesota. McGinnis will explain why Oregon beet farmers are at the center of a national lawsuit, compare the environmental impacts of planting engineered and non-engineered sugar beets, and examine the legal rights of conventional and organic farmers. 
  • Nov. 17: "Setting Standards: Measuring Sustainability in Agriculture" by Marty Matlock, director of the Center for Agriculture and Rural Sustainability, professor of biological and agricultural engineering at the University of Arkansas, and environmental protection commissioner for the Cherokee Nation.  Matlock will discuss international development of criteria and standards for measuring and certifying sustainable agricultural practices, and describe sustainability trends for major agricultural crops in the U.S. over the last decade.
  • Feb. 9: "Lessons Learned: Environmental Impacts of Genetically Engineered Crops" by Yves Carrière, professor of entomology at the University of Arizona. Carrière will summarize the findings of a recent National Research Council committee on which he served that explored the impacts of biotech crops on farm sustainability in the U.S.
  • Feb. 23: "Food's Footprint: Agriculture and Climate Change," by Jennifer Burney, researcher in the Program on Food Security and the Environment at Stanford University.  Burney will examine the effects of the "green revolution" in agricultural production on greenhouse gas emissions over the past 50 years.  She will also explore the greenhouse gas impacts from alternative forms of contemporary agricultural systems.

This year's series is co-organized by Steven Strauss, distinguished professor and head of the Outreach in Biotechnology Program at OSU; and John Lambrinos, assistant professor of landscape ecology in the OSU Department of Horticulture.

The speakers will also give technical lectures on campus during their visits.  The titles of these lectures and speaker bios, as well as streaming videos and study guides for past lectures, are available online at

The Food For Thought lecture series is supported by the American Society for Plant Biology, the Wait and Lois Rising Lectureship Fund in the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences, and the OSU College of Forestry.

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Steve Strauss, 541-737-6578