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UNCG Professor To Testify In New Zealand

University News Service P.O. Box 26170 Greensboro, NC 27402-6170 Telephone (336) 334-5371 Fax (336) 334-3418 (Posted 11-22-00) IMMEDIATE RELEASE News Service Contact: Laurie Gengenbach, 336-334-5371

UNCG Professor To Testify In New Zealand On Risks And Benefits Of Genetically Modified Food Crops

GREENSBORO — Dr. Neal Stewart, associate professor of biology at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, will present testimony to the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification Nov. 29-30 in Wellington, New Zealand. Dr. Neal Stewart

Stewart will discuss the potential ecological consequences of the release of genetically modified (GM) plants into the environment, with consideration to concerns over pollen drift of GM crop pollen, gene flow to weeds, and side-effects of pesticidal genes in plants.

The government of New Zealand will determine the future of genetic modification and use of genetically modified organisms and products in New Zealand based on the recommendation of the commission. The New Zealand Life Sciences Network, an organization of scientists, invited Stewart to present his ideas on the risks and benefits of genetic modifications. The commission was appointed to address the advantages and disadvantages, benefits and risks, cultural and ethical considerations, legal obligations and economic considerations surrounding the use of genetic modification in New Zealand. The hearings, which started in August, will conclude in June with a report to the government on what role, if any, GM plants will play in New Zealand agriculture.

A top authority on plant biotechnology, Stewart is frequently asked to speak at academic and government conferences throughout the world. His research on genetically modified plants has been funded from a variety of sources, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Science Foundation, NASA, and Dow AgroSciences. The U.S. Congress recently appropriated $500,000 for Stewart to study applications of biotechnology to combat bioterrorist attacks on public water supplies.

He is investigating a variety of other uses for genetically modified plants as sensors to detect landmines, toxic aluminum in soil, or the occurrence of pollen drift from GM crops to native species.

Stewart's research has been published in numerous journals, including Nature Biotechnology. His most recent article, "Transgenic Plants and Biosafety: Science, Misconceptions and Public Perceptions," was published in the October edition of BioTechniques journal.

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