02/04/2002 - The Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology hosted a policy dialogue, "Environmental Savior or Saboteur? Debating the Impacts of Genetically Modified Food and Biotechnology" on February 4, 2002 in the Hawthorne Room of San Francisco's Golden Gate Club/National Recreation Area. Margaret Warner, Senior Correspondent for the PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, moderated the lively discussion with environmentalists, policymakers, and researchers. A poll was released on consumer attitudes towards agricultural biotech and the environment.
"Much has been researched and written about whether genetically modified crops are good or bad for the environment," said Michael Rodemeyer, executive director of the Initiative. "We hope, through this policy dialogue, to stimulate an informative discussion about the present and expected impacts of agricultural biotechnology on the environment and to help examine the science as well as the passions for why people feel so strongly -- one way or another -- about this technology.
- Charles Benbrook, an environmental consultant and the former executive director of the National Academy of Sciences Board on Agriculture, who has critiqued contemporary claims of environmental and economic benefits from today's genetically modified crops
- Martina McGloughlin, director of the Biotechnology Program at the University of California-Davis, who has written and lectured about the environmental benefits of biotechnology
- Carl Pope, president of the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club has taken the position that there should be a moratorium on all genetically modified products until they have been adequately tested to better understand which of them pose environmental risks.
- Peter Raven, president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and recently named "Hero for the Planet" by Time Magazine, who has spoken about how biotechnology can be a boon to biodiversity, not a threat.