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GM Foods Next in Series

Next in Libraries’ Author Series, UC Riverside Botanist Asks: Are Genetically Modified Foods Hazardous?

Alan McHughen to Discuss Issues Tackled in Book “Pandora’s Picnic Basket”

(February 17, 2004)

Alan McHughen

Alan McHughen

RIVERSIDE, Calif. —— Alan McHughen, a professor of botany and plant sciences, will speak about his book Pandora’s Picnic Basket: The Potential and Hazards of Genetically Modified Foods and answer questions from 3:15 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., tomorrow Feb. 18, 2004. It is the fifth talk of the 2003-04 UCR Libraries’ Author Series and will be Web cast live from the fourth floor of the Tomás Rivera Library, 900 University Ave., Riverside. The Web cast link is available on the series Web site.
For more information about the UCR Libraries’ Author Series, call Special Collections at 909-787-3233 or e-mail Melissa Conway, the head of Special Collections.

Pandora’s Picnic Basket, published in September 2000 by Oxford University Press, focuses on the safety issues surrounding genetically modified (GM) food and food additives. The book is a thorough assessment of some of the basic scientific issues concerning whether genetic modification may turn out to produce harmful or beneficial results. The book also covers a wide range of topics including labels and environmental concerns.

A molecular geneticist, public sector educator, scientist and consumer advocate, McHughen has helped develop U.S. and Canadian regulations covering the environmental release of plants with novel traits. He also served on recent National Academy of Science and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development panels investigating the environmental and health effects of genetically modified organisms. As an educator and consumer advocate, he helps non-scientists understand the environmental and health impacts of both modern and traditional methods of food production. His award winning book, Pandora's Picnic Basket: The Potential and Hazards of Genetically Modified Foods, uses clear, consumer-friendly language to explode the myths and explore the genuine risks of GM technology.

The monthly Author Series, which began in September 2002, brings the riches of the campus libraries to the community. According to organizer Melissa Conway, who heads UC Riverside’s Special Collections, the authors are all affiliated with UC Riverside. All UC Riverside Libraries’ Author Series events are free and open to the public.

Parking on campus is $6 per vehicle for the day or may be purchased for shorter periods at $2 per hour. Parking permits are available at the information kiosks near the University Avenue and the Canyon Crest Drive and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard entrances.

Other authors in the series include:

  • March 24: Stephen Spindler, professor of biochemistry, will speak on his intriguing research on the correlation between calorie restriction and longevity. Spindler asserts that the fewer the calories an animal consumes — provided malnutrition is avoided — the slower an animal ages and the lower the death rate from cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Spindler has served on several advisory groups and committees for the National Institute on Aging, and National Institutes of Health.

  • April 14: Maurya Simon, chair and professor of creative writing, will read from her book of poetry, A Brief History of Punctuation (Sutton Hoo Press, 2002). Simon is also the author of The Enchanted Roo and Days of Awe (Copper Canyon Press, 1986, 1989), Speaking in Tongues (Gibbs Smith, 1990), and The Golden Labyrinth (Univ. of Missouri Press, 1995). Her sixth volume of poetry, Weavers, is forthcoming from Blackbird Press. Professor Simon’s poems have appeared in several publications, including The New Yorker, Poetry, TriQuarterly, The Southern Review, The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, The Los Angeles Times Book Review, the New England Review, and in more than thirty anthologies.

  • May 19: Howard K. Wettstein, professor of philosophy, will speak on Diaspora and Exiles: Varieties of Jewish Identity (University of California Press, 2002), which he edited. Wettstein is also the author of Has Semantics Rested on a Mistake? and Other Essays (Stanford University Press, 1991), and The Magic Prism—An Essay in the Philosophy of Language (Oxford University Press, 2003), and numerous articles on the philosophy of language. Diaspora and Exiles considers the question of Jewish identity from the perspectives of anthropology, art history, comparative literature, history, philosophy, political theory, and sociology.

UC Riverside’s Libraries are the focal points for research and study on campus. Their collections include 2,081,146 volumes, 12,444 serial subscriptions and 1,672,042 microforms housed in five facilities: the Tomás Rivera Library (serving the humanities, arts and social sciences); the Science Library; the Music Library; Media Library; and Special Collections, housing rare books and manuscripts, and unique archival resources. For more about the UC Riverside Libraries, go to


The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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