In Episode 91 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on March 9, 2013, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Dick Lyons, co-founder of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Michael Funk.  Funk is a pioneer of the natural foods industry; founder and chairman of United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) and co-founder of Non-GMO project of California (a non-profit organization that educates consumers and builds sources of non-GMO products).

Michael Funk

Michael Funk, founder and chairman of UNFI

Genetic engineering began in the late 1980’s.  While the practice can be beneficial, Funk suggests applying the precautionary principle by which new technologies are proven safe before their widespread circulation. Existing GMO research is largely funded by the biotech industry, which, Funk says, is not independent.  Therefore, he’d favor a moratorium on GMOs in foods until further research has been done about its health and environmental impacts.  Already, there’s an epidemic of “super weeds” that are resistant to herbicides.  As a result, super weeds are, ironically, requiring more and different chemicals to grow foods.

In the meantime, Funk advocates labeling foods with GMOs.  Currently, there’s no federal or state oversight on labeling, a practice that can be tricky because although it’s easy to identify a genetically modified ear of corn, tracking down the origin of micro ingredients such as corn starch or corn syrup in another product is challenging.  The Non-GMO Project has developed a consumer shopping app that verifies GMO status of more than 9,000 products.

Nearly 50 countries – including the EU, Russia and China – already have mandatory GMO labeling.  In the US, intense lobbying by the biotech industry (outspending labeling advocates 10 to 1) has prevented labeling laws.  Studies show that once GMOs are noted on a food label, consumers chose not to buy it.

What do you think about GMO labeling?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Funk: Episode 91 of The Wendel Forum (27:50 mins; mp3)

United Natural Foods Web Page: https://www.unfi.com/Pages/default.aspx

Non-GMO Project: http://www.nongmoproject.org

960 KNEW AM Radio Website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Dick Lyons online profile: http://www.wendel.com/rlyons

In Episode 89 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on January 19, 2013, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Karen Engel, executive director of the East Bay Economic Development Alliance (the “EDA”), a public-private partnership serving the San Francisco East Bay, including Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. The EDA strives to establish the East Bay as a world-recognized destination to grow businesses, attract capital and create quality jobs.

Karen Engel, Executive Director of East Bay EDA

Karen Engel, Executive Director of East Bay EDA

The EDA has been pursuing its mission for the past 22 years. It serves as a platform for community, government, academic and business leaders to examine and improve the region’s economy so that local businesses can grow and thrive. To that end, each year the EDA creates strategic priorities that respond to and proactively address issues in the region, which is home to 2.5 million people and many micro-economies.

The clean tech sector, in particular, is a critical part of the East Bay’s economic future. In fact, the East Bay has the second largest clean tech sector in the country, following only Silicon Valley, and is home to cutting-edge research into biofuels, alternative energy storage and battery technology. Similarly, with UC Berkeley and its attendant national laboratories, the East Bay boasts more life sciences square footage than even San Francisco’s Mission Bay.

Addressing workforce strategies, the EDA is building educational systems and integrated courses in local high schools, community colleges and universities that support the East Bay companies and business sectors. Similarly, addressing infrastructure and transportation, the EDA is working to promote transit-oriented development so that new projects are centered around the region’s transportation nodes.

On January 31, the EDA will host its first ever East Bay Innovation Awards at the Fox Theater in Oakland, where it will bestow awards to the most cutting-edge of 85 nominated companies.

What draws you and your spending dollars to the East Bay?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Engel:  Episode 89 of The Wendel Forum (27:46 mins; mp3)

East Bay EDA Website: http://www.eastbayeda.org

Innovation Awards event info: http://www.eastbayeda.org/iawards/innovation_home.html

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 88 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on January 12, 2013, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes John Knox, executive director of Earth Island Institute, a non-profit, public- interest membership organization that supports people working to protect the planet.

John Knox of Earth Island Institute visits The Wendel Forum

John Knox of Earth Island Institute visits The Wendel Forum

Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Earth Island Institute can be viewed as an umbrella or incubator organization that assists local and global non-profits creating improvements to the environment, explains Knox. The Institute gives project directors autonomy in executing their work and also offers groups the streamlined benefit of one board, one annual report and one yearly audit. In its three decades, Earth Island Institute has supported 135 projects, including Food Shift (dedicated to curbing waste and building a more sustainable food system) and the Plastic Pollution Coalition (a global alliance of individuals, businesses and organizations focused on ending plastic pollution and its toxic impacts).

Beyond serving as a fiscal sponsor for environmentally-focused organizations, Earth Island Institute also educates the greater public through its quarterly Earth Island Journal, which features investigative journalism and thought-provoking essays about the environment. The Institute also hosts public programs at the Goldman Theater in its David Brower Center (a green building in downtown Berkeley named for the organization’s founder), and bestows Brower Youth Awards to North Americans ages 13 to 22 who have shown outstanding leadership on a project or campaign with a positive environmental and social impact.

What organizations do you know that work towards protecting the planet?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Knox: Episode 88 of The Wendel Forum (27:50 mins; mp3)

Earth Island Institute’s website: http://www.earthisland.org

Food Shift website: http://www.foodshift.net/

Plastic Pollution Coalition website: http://plasticpollutioncoalition.org/ 

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 369 other followers