The debate over GMOs heads to the ballot box

photo of farmThe following column was written by Melissa Wdowik, PhD, RDN, an assistant professor at Colorado State University in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, and director of the Kendall Anderson Nutrition Center. Genetically engineered foods are all around us: an estimated 60 percent to 80 percent of processed foods in U.S. grocery stores have genetically modified ingredients. With the food labeling initiative Proposition 105 on the November ballot, this is a good time to improve our understanding of both genetic engineering and the voting option before us. Genetic engineering involves the transfer of genes for particular traits between species. Other terms for genetically engineered (GE) plants (or foods derived from them) are genetically modified (GM), genetically modified organism (GMO), and bioengineered. Historically, most of our foods have been naturally genetically modified through domestication of wild plants and natural selection, and agriculturally modified using genetic and selective breeding. The newer techniques of bioengineering are more precise laboratory methods of physically removing a gene from one organism and adding it into another, giving it the ability to express a desired trait. Most current GM crops have been engineered for resistance to insects, diseases, or herbicides. While “herbicide tolerance” sounds like an excuse to use more herbicides, it actually allows farmers to use products that are more environmentally friendly, while reducing soil erosion and CO2 emissions. According to Dr. Patrick Byrne, a professor in CSU’s Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, crops most commonly engineered in Colorado include corn, alfalfa, and sugar beets, as well as soybeans and canola. Nationwide, cotton is another major engineered crop. The biggest concern to consumers is: are these GM crops safe to eat? The term “frankenfood” was coined to reflect fears of unknown changes to our food supply. Indeed there are both pros and cons to genetically engineered foods espoused by supporters and detractors, respectively. Supporters say benefits include increased pest and disease resistance, drought tolerance, and increased yields. They point to 18 years of GM consumption and hundreds of research studies finding no difference in food safety or nutritional value between GM and non-GM foods. They also point to potential GM crops that are nutritionally superior, such as Golden Rice, enriched with beta-carotene. Detractors say risks include creation of pesticide-resistant weeds, accidental contamination between GM and non-GM crops and, hypothetically at least, antibiotic resistance and introduction of allergens into foods. The issues go further, however, with political, environmental and industrial arguments beyond the scope of this column. It is a highly complex issue, full of pros and cons. The question remains, will labeling of GMOs help? Food labeling may give transparency for consumers to make informed decisions, but critics remind us that the cost will be passed on to taxpayers and consumers and loopholes make the benefits questionable: many foods will be exempt even when they do contain GE ingredients. Some experts support labels but want to wait for more accurate, reliable labeling rules. In the meantime, interested consumers can buy certified organic foods, which are by law free of GE ingredients, or “Non-GMO Verified” products. See Dr. Byrne’s thorough, unbiased explanation of labeling pros and cons here. A related SOURCE story on this ballot measure, "Researcher: Analysis of GMO labeling initiative unbiased," is available here.

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Construction Management takes 1st

Students from CSU’s Department of Construction Management took the overall winner’s crown at the Oct. 17 Homecoming Parade. It's the 10th year in a row that a Construction Management team has gotten a first place in the competition. [caption id="attachment_5478" align="alignright" width="300"]photo of CSU Chinese Club float The CSU Chinese Club got first place in the "Novelty" category among CSU floats.[/caption] The Construction Management team took first among CSU floats, with Team Skyline coming in second and Team Laurel landing third. In the “Novelty” category among CSU floats, the CSU Chinese Club got first place, the Alumni Association took second, and the CSU Rodeo Team was third. In the overall “Community” class, the Harmony Gardens float got top honors, The Studio came in second, and The Egg & I took third. In the “Community Novelty” category, first place went to Gallegos Sanitation, The Cheer & Dance Connection landed second place, and the Silver Grill Café got third.

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Orchid Ensemble brings eastern flair

Orchid EnsembleTogether with the Fort Collins Lincoln Center, the CSU Department of Music, Theatre & Dance presents the internationally acclaimed Orchid Ensemble with the CSU Concert Choir, the third installment in the new Classical Convergence Music Series, on Wednesday, Oct. 29 at 7:30 p.m. in Organ Recital Hall at the University Center for the Arts at 1400 Remington Street. This new series features traditional classical solo artists and chamber ensembles, as well as explores the new projects and concepts continually branching out of the genre. Tickets are $10 for students and $20 for the public. Tickets are available at the Lincoln Center box office at 417 West Magnolia Street, by phone at (970) 221-6730, or online. Tickets may also be purchased at the door at the University Center for the Arts (UCA). The ticket office in the UCA lobby opens 90 minutes prior to any UCA performance and through intermission. Blends musical instruments, Chinese traditions Building on the classical concert programs of both organizations, the co-produced Classical Convergence Series features seven world-class performers and ensembles – performing at the University Center for the Arts and the Lincoln Center – including Grammy award-winning violinist Joshua Bell, as well as pianist Jeremy Denk, Mother Falcon, the Borromeo String Quartet, Orchid Ensemble, Classical Jam, and the Mendelssohn Trio. “The series allows us to thoroughly examine the intersection of world-class performers and our community, creating intimate experiences that allow for real interaction with these artists,” said Jack Rogers, general manager for the Lincoln Center. The Juno nominated and Independent Music Award winning Orchid Ensemble blends ancient musical instruments and traditions from China and beyond, creating a beautiful new sound that is both creative and distinct. The ensemble has embraced a variety of musical styles to its repertoire, ranging from the traditional and contemporary music of China, world music, new music, to creative improvisation. Comprised of members Lan Tung, erhu and vocal; Geling Jiang, zheng (Chinese zither); and Jonathan Bernard, marimba and percussion, Orchid Ensemble regularly collaborates with musician from a wide variety of world cultures. For this performance, Orchid Ensemble joins forces with the CSU Concert Choir for three pieces: In the Very Highest Place, which uses traditional Chinese musical characteristics and text, a Hebrew text from the Song of Solomon which blends traditional Jewish and Asian musical styles into a fascinating blended style, and Ghost Mind utilizing avant-garde choral techniques. “These pieces are really unlike anything that our students have ever performed before,” said Ryan Olsen, conductor of the CSU Concert Choir. “The biggest challenges in preparing this concert have been learning the very modern compositional techniques, both for the choir and their interaction with the instrumentalists, and also trying to coordinate the choral parts with these Asian instruments that we don’t have at CSU.” The energetic yet endearing performance style of Orchid Ensemble consistently intrigues and delights its audiences, consistently receiving standing ovations. “This will truly be one of the most unique concerts that CSU performs this year,” said Olsen. 'One of the brightest blossoms' in world music Acclaimed as ‘One of the brightest blossoms on the world music scene’ (Georgia Straight), the Orchid Ensemble has been tirelessly developing an innovative musical genre based on the cultural exchange between Western and Asian musicians. The Orchid Ensemble regularly collaborates with musicians from a wide variety of world cultures and actively commissions new works by Canadian and US composers for its unique instrumentation. Read more. About the Classical Convergence Series: Fall 2014 marks the beginning of a partnership between the Colorado State University Dept. of Music, Theatre and Dance and the Fort Collins Lincoln Center with the launch of the Classical Convergence Concert Series. The series features traditional classical solo artists and chamber ensembles, while further exploring the full spectrum of the classical music genre. Read more. 2014-15 season Orchid Ensemble with the CSU Concert Choir 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29, University Center for the Arts Mendelssohn Trio 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 2, University Center for the Arts Jeremy Denk, Piano 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan., 20, 2015, University Center for the Arts Joshua Bell, Violin 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 12, 2015, Lincoln Center Classical Jam 7:30 p.m. Saturday April 4, 2015, University Center for the Arts Borromeo String Quartet 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 18, 2015, University Center for the Arts The University Center for the Arts provides an enriched venue in which the study and practice of Art, Dance, Music, and Theatre are nurtured and sustained by building the skills and knowledge needed by future generations of arts professionals to become contributors to the essential vitality of our culture and society.

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OT program named 1st in nation

[caption id="attachment_5340" align="alignright" width="300"]photo of OT summer session An occupational therapy class during the 2014 summer session.[/caption] Current and former students have voted Colorado State University's Department of Occupational Therapy as the best in the country — again. In the latest rankings by GraduatePrograms.com, CSU’s occupational therapy program beat out OT departments at Washington University in St. Louis (2nd), Boston University (9th), Columbia University (12th) and the University of Southern California (20th) for the top spot. “We are honored to be ranked as the number one occupational therapy department in the nation,” said Robert Gotshall, interim head of the department. “Our students and alumni rank us through Graduateprograms.com, and this is the second year in a row that we have topped the list of 25 best occupational therapy programs in the nation. Now it is the responsibility of our faculty to maintain the educational quality that has inspired our students to rank us so highly.” The professional program in the Department of Occupational Therapy — part of the College of Health and Human Sciences — long has been recognized as one of the nation's best. U.S. News and World Report ranked the program No. 6 in the country in its 2014 survey. Graduateprograms.com reaches current and recent graduate students through scholarship entries as well as social media platforms. The program rankings cover a period from Sept. 1, 2012 to Sept. 30, 2014. Graduateprograms.com assigns 15 ranking categories to each graduate program at each graduate school. Rankings cover a variety of student topics, such as academic competitiveness, career support, financial aid, and quality of network. For a given graduate program, rankings are determined by calculating the average score for each program based on the 15 ranking categories. More information is available at www.graduateprograms.com/top-occupational-therapy.

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