FoodYou Design - Bioethics Forum XX

FoodYou Design - BioEthics Forum XX
View the event archived on Youtube and add to the discussion on Twitter with #pacefood.

Feelings, Facts, Food and GMOs – A Fresh Look  

The mission of the FoodYou Campaign at Pace University is to objectively explore and address the tough questions surrounding today’s food system. The role of genetic engineering in agriculture is particularly contentious, with assertions about huge promise or perils often obscuring science.  

Thank you to those who joined us Wednesday, February 26th for FoodYou Design: BioEthics Forum XX.


The panel aimed to inform rather than inflame by bringing together a chef focused on conscious cuisine, a food journalist who spent six months investigating claims and counterclaims about GMOs, a law professor and a plant geneticist. The discussion was brilliantly moderated by Pace Academy Senior Fellow Andrew Revkin, who has explored the future of food repeatedly on his New York Times blog, Dot Earth.

We ask you now: can GMOs be a part of our vision for a sustainable, equitable, and healthy world?


Panelist Biographies


Shelley Boris was studying painting in New York City when she took a job at the newly opened Dean & Deluca to make ends meet. Soon enough she was manager of the cheese department and swept into the mesmeric food world of early-1980s New York, which tipped its hat to the qualities of traditional cooking while experimenting with novel approaches. 

She went on to become the chef at Exile, then at Peter Dent Catering, both in Tribeca. Shelley opened the first Dean & DeLuca Espresso Bar at the Paramount in Midtown, then began working as a private caterer in the city. She has published recipes in various journals and books, including the New York Times and Food & Wine Magazine, Recipes From America’s Small Farms, and co-wrote The International Mail Order Gourmet, a food guide, with friend Jamie Harrison.

Since forming Fresh Company Shelley has cooked for such personalities as the Dalai Lama and Mikhail Gorbachev. She is a founding member of the Cold Spring Farmer’s Market and works in the Hudson Valley region to promote local foodmakers and farmers.

Shelley Boris is the chef at the Garrison Institute and is a partner at Fresh Company, where she is the creative director and executive chef. She is inspired by a diversity of regional cooking styles from around the world. In the kitchen, Shelley’s warm, relaxed sensibility is an extension of her love of a leisurely stay at the table and her belief in the elemental value of eating and drinking well. A board member emerita of Cold Spring’s Farmers’ Market, Shelley has long worked to support sustainable agriculture in the Hudson Valley. She lives in Garrison with her husband and two sons.




Professor Jason J. Czarnezki holds the Gilbert and Sarah Kerlin Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law at Pace Law School.

Prior to joining the Pace Law faculty, Professor Czarnezki was Professor of Law in the Environmental Law Center at Vermont Law School, Faculty Director of the U.S.-China Partnership for Environmental Law, and a Faculty Fellow in the Vermont Law Center for Agriculture and Food Systems.  He has also held academic appointments at Marquette University Law School and the DePaul University College of Law.  Pursuing interests in comparative and global environmental law and politics, Professor Czarnezki served as a guest researcher at Uppsala University in Sweden in 2011 and spent the 2009-2010 academic year as a J. William Fulbright Scholar at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China, where he lived with his family and traveled throughout the country. He has presented his work on environmentalism, natural resources law, food policy, and global climate policy at universities, public interest organizations, government institutions, and conferences throughout the United States, Europe and Asia.

Previously, he served as a law clerk to the Honorable D. Brock Hornby of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine and as a law clerk for the Bureau of Legal Services at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. His articles have been published in the law journals of Boston College, Boston University, Stanford University, University of Chicago, University of Colorado, University of Maryland, and University of Virginia. His books include "Everyday Environmentalism: Law, Nature and Individual Behavior" (2011) and "Food, Agriculture and Environmental Law" (2013).  Professor Czarnezki received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Chicago.

 View his website and follow him @czarnezki on Twitter.



Nathanael Johnson is a journalist who lives in San Francisco with his wife and daughter. He has contributed to magazines such as Harper's, New York, and Conservation, and to National Public Radio, and This American Life. His first book is: All Natural: A Skeptic's Quest to Discover If the Natural Approach to Diet, Childbirth, Healing, and the Environment Really Keeps Us Healthier and Happier, which is also a quest to have the world’s longest subtitle. He worked at a small-town newspaper in Idaho before going to study with Michael Pollan at the UC Berkeley School of Journalism. He writes the "Thought for Food" column at, and tweets @SavorTooth.

Johnson spent six months investigating GMOs for in "Panic-Free GMOs."


PAMELA RONALD (via Google+)

Pamela Ronald is Director of the Laboratory for Crop Genetics Innovation at the University of California, Davis. She is Professor at the Department of Plant Pathology and the Genome Center at UC Davis and also serves as Director of Grass Genetics at the Joint Bioenergy Institute in Emeryville, California.

Ronald’s laboratory has engineered rice for resistance to disease and tolerance to flooding, which seriously threaten rice crops in Asia and Africa. Ronald led the isolation of the rice XA21 immune receptor and the rice Sub1A submergence tolerance transcription factor. In 2013, more than 4 million farmers planted Sub1 rice. Xa21 is being used to engineer banana for resistance to Banana Xanthomonas wilt, a serious disease that affects 100 million people in Eastern Africa. In 1996, she established the Genetic Resources Recognition Fund, a mechanism to recognize intellectual property contributions from less developed countries.

She and her colleagues were recipients of the USDA 2008 National Research Initiative Discovery Award for their work on rice submergence tolerance. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Fulbright-Tocqueville Distinguished Chair and the  National Association of Science Writers Science in Society Journalism Award. She is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2011, she was selected as one of the 100 most creative people in business by Fast Company Magazine. In 2012, Ronald was awarded the Louis Malassis International Scientific Prize for Agriculture and Food and the Tech Award for innovative use of technology to benefit humanity.

Pamela Ronald has written opinion pieces for the Boston Globe, The Economist, The Boston Review and the New York Times and is a blogger for Scientific American’s “Food Matters” blog. She is coauthor with her husband, Raoul Adamchak, an organic farmer, of “Tomorrow's Table: Organic Farming, Genetic and the Future of Food”. Bill Gates calls the book “ a fantastic piece of work” and “important for anyone that wants to learn about the science of seeds and challenges faced by farmers”.


ANDREW REVKIN (moderator)

Andrew Revkin is the Senior Fellow for Environmental Understanding at Pace Universityand has been writing about environmental sustainability for more than three decades, from the Amazon to the White House to the North Pole, mainly for The New York Times. He has won the top awards in science journalism multiple times, along with a Guggenheim Fellowship.

At Pace, he teaches courses in blogging, environmental communication and documentary film. He has written acclaimed books on global warming, the changing Arctic and the assault on the Amazon rain forest, as well as three book chapters on science communication. Drawing on his experience with his Times blog, Dot Earth, which Time Magazine named one of the top 25 blogs in 2013, Revkin speaks to audiences around the world about the power of the Web to foster progress. He’s also a performing songwriter, was a longtime accompanist for Pete Seeger and recently released his first album of original songs.

Two films have been based on his work: “Rock Star” (Warner Brothers, 2001) and “The Burning Season” (HBO, 1994). Learn more from Pace ( and The Times ( Find his music here:


This event originally took place on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 to a packed audience in the Kessel Student Center on Pace University's Pleasantville Campus.

Please send any questions to Caroline Craig at .

Co-sponsored by:
Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies
Sigma Xi: The Scientific Research Society
Dyson College of Arts and Sciences