Rock Ethics Institute to host panel discussion on genetically modified organisms

September 16, 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Rock Ethics Institute will host the Research Ethics Lecture Series for a second year. The first event of this year’s series will be a panel discussion that will focus on the environmental impacts of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). 

The panel discussion will take place at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 13, in the Foster Auditorium (102 Paterno Library) on the University Park campus. Registration to attend the event in-person is recommended.  However, if you are unable to attend in person, a live stream of the event will be available. We will also take questions and send out real time updates through our Twitter page during the event. This event is free and open to the public.

Much of the public debate around genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has been the subject of hot debate. Environmental impacts of GMO development have often been overshadowed by concerns about food safety. This is in spite of consistent scientific evidence that such concerns are more driven by hype than understanding.

The panelists for this presentation include:

-- Bart Gremmen, a professor of Ethics in Life Sciences at Wageningen University and senior research associate at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford. He manages the society clusters in the Centre for BioSystems Genomics. His current research focuses on the ethical and societal issues in emerging technologies, genomics, nanotechnology, genetic engineering and synthetic biology.

-- Dave Mortenson, a professor of weed and applied plant ecology at Penn State. Mortenson applies his background in applied plant ecology and ecologically-based pest management to improve the sustainability of land resource management. His work explores the interplay between the ecology of agricultural fields, field edges and forest fragments.

-- Paul Thompson, who holds the W.K. Kellogg Chair in Agricultural Food and Community Ethics at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. His research has centered on ethical and philosophical questions associated with agriculture and food, and especially concerning the guidance and development of agricultural techno-science. This research focus has led him to undertake a series of projects on the application of recombinant DNA techniques to agricultural crops and food animals.

-- Kyle Whyte, an assistant professor of philosophy at Michigan State University and affiliated faculty for peace and justice studies, environmental science and policy at the Center for Regional Food Systems, Animal Studies and American Indian Studies. Whyte writes on environmental justice, the philosophy of technology and American Indian philosophy. His most recent research addresses moral and political issues concerning climate change impacts on indigenous peoples.

As a central hub of ethics research and education at Penn State, the Rock Ethics Institute is proud to host this event. Several of our own researchers are deeply involved in social, ethical and legal implications of technologies like those involved in genetic modification. They are working to bring together other voices from peer institutions to discuss this topic.

SARI@PSU participation credit is available for the in-person event.

The Rock Ethics Institute promotes the integration of ethics across the Penn State curriculum and supports innovative interdisciplinary ethical research, teaching and outreach. The institute supports ethics-based curriculum development for new courses and the addition of ethical dimensions to existing courses; organizes faculty resources and seminars on ethics education; and sponsors conferences, lecture series and research projects on key themes in bioethics, ethics education, leadership, climate change and the Critical Philosophy of Race. More information about the Rock Ethics Institute can be found at

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Last Updated May 19, 2016