GMOs discussed at Chamber meeting

By Melissa Huber, I-O Reporter

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) were the topic of guest speaker Joel Farkell’s presentation, but business reports were heard before he took the floor at the Chamber of Commerce meeting on Dec. 11.

The Chamber appreciated everyone who braved the cold and sought to enjoy the Christmas Stroll regardless of subzero temperatures. Businesses enjoyed a successful evening, and both the Shop at Home Bingo game and the Tree Auction were well attended. The tree and wreath sales brought in approximately $5,200—which is comparable to last year’s totals—with all of the money going towards street decorations, as per usual. This year there were 12 wreaths, 12 artificial trees, and four live trees to bid on.

Attendees were advised that the Button Program is still in progress, and, though the drawings for the Chamber gift cards were done at this meeting, most deals available through the program will run until Christmas.

Button Program drawing winners included Judy Ellis for a $200 Chamber Bucks gift card, and Ray Widhalm for a $300 gift card.

Those present were also advised to start thinking of nominees for Unsung Hero, Business Person of the Year, and the Clydesdale Awards. Letters of nomination should be dropped off at the Chamber office.

Representative Rob Cook was on hand to give the Legislative report, and spoke a little about the State budget and other business, such as the redistricting that allowed Representative Llew Jones to run for re-election.

Conrad Public Schools’ Superintendent Craig Barringer introduced two of the new teachers. He also made mention that he had heard just that morning that CHS had received a grant to replace their old boiler.

Peggy Young thanked Conrad Tire for their unique Christmas tree light display that has been up across the street from Conrad Tire since the Stroll.

Speaking on behalf of the Volunteer Fire Department, Farkell thanked everyone for their donations and help during the Volunteer Fire Department’s fundraiser.

He then began his speech by explaining that leading GMO producer, Monsanto, like Kleenex, often becomes synonymous with GMOs, just like Kleenex becomes synonymous with tissue. Both are leading manufacturers, not the sole manufacturers of their respective products.

Genetically Modified Organisms are organisms whose genetic compositions have been changed using genetic engineering. The modifications can be anything from increasing the nutrients of a given organism to making it more resistance to pests and disease.

One of the biggest reasons biotechnological foods are viewed as necessary is that there is an impending global food crisis. Genetically modified crops have assisted in easing that crisis. In the last 15 years biotechnology has helped farmers grow 311.8 million tons more food.

Though, the against side of the GMO debate will argue that there have been no long-term studies measuring their effect on humans. It is for this reason researchers fear that GM crops can be toxic and allergenic, or even less nutritious than their naturally grown counterparts. They can create serious problems for farmers that include superweeds (or weeds that are tolerant of herbicide), increased susceptibility to disease, and compromised soil quality. Also, the FDA does not consider GMOs different from regularly grown crops, and, therefore, they are not monitored more than their naturally grown counterparts.

Genetic modification can be done naturally, though it takes much longer and is not exactly considered genetically modified as we know it now. That is possibly the biggest argument on the against side: Genetically modified organisms aren’t natural.

The next Chamber of Commerce luncheon is scheduled for Jan. 8 at Coaches Corner.