Two forums take look at biotechnology

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 25, 2001

Biotechnology will be examined at two separate forums Monday night in Austin.

Sunday, March 25, 2001

Biotechnology will be examined at two separate forums Monday night in Austin.

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The League of Women Voters of the Austin Area meets at 5 p.m. Monday to hear Larry Larson of Sargeant speak on biotechnology and the food supply.

Reservations are needed for the light supper at 5 p.m. Larson’s presentation begins at 5:45 p.m.

Then, the spotlight shifts to the Frank W. Bridges Theatre on the campus of Riverland Community College Monday night.

Charles Muscoplat will speak on the topic "Biotechnology – What It Means To You" beginning at 7 p.m.

The visit of Muscoplat, dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Science at the University of Minnesota is sponsored by Mower County Farm Bureau, Riverland’s farm business management program and Farmers State Bank of Elkton and Dexter.

Both events are open to the public. Only the League of Women’s Voters event requires preregistration, because of the meal being served.

Larson, a pork and poultry producer, is a grower and a seed corn sales representative as well. He also is president of the Mower County Farm Bureau.

"We hope the public will take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about biotechnology," he said. "We especially hope city dwellers will want to gain more information."

The guest speaker, Charles Muscoplat, is a widely known expert in this area. There will be a question-and-answer period afterward," he said.

Muscoplat is a post-doctoral fellow at Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research. He has a doctorate in veterinary microbiology and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and mathematics.

Muscoplat played a key role in several "firsts."

He was a part of the first creation of a Lyme disease vaccine for pets; the first U.S. biotech plant product developed, Liberty; developed the first biotech animal product; and two FDA-approved drugs.

Consumers seem more willing to accept genetically engineered drugs, but not food.

A year ago, when a new world accord was reached on genetically modified foodstuffs, it was considered a breakthrough in a global policy for biotech foods.

It is said to offer improved nutrition and fewer pesticides in food. Biodisease controls and new pharmaceuticals are another advantage. As far as the environment is concerned, it offers the efficient use of resources, less chemical controls and conservation of water.

But there also is a negative side and that is why the Mower County Farm Bureau and the co-sponsors of Monday night’s Riverland program are hopeful the audience will treat the subject and the presenter with an open mind.

The Farm Bureau says it is sponsoring the program to "bring a better understanding of the science of biotechnology and the role that this science plays in our lives."

Going one step further, the Farm Bureau also wants participants in Monday night’s forum to know "We live in a world of misconception and fear and it is our hope that this presentation helps you see the benefits and also the cautious path that needs to be taken in implementing biotechnology in our food, human health and agriculture industries."

Call Lee Bonorden at 434-2232 or e-mail him at