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WN@TL: Genetically Engineered Crops: Whence, Whither, Whether?
August 21, 2019 @ 7:00 pm - 8:15 pm
Speaker: Tom Zinnen
I grew up in Dixon, Illinois, on the Rock River, downstream from Lake Mendota. On the banks of the Rock, I attended Dixon High School, now renovated on the interior and restored on the exterior. My Mom went to high school there (’46) and my Dad was a history teacher & guidance counselor there (1952-1983). I studied biology at UW-Platteville, in Grant County, the subject county of next week’s talk. I got my MS in plant pathology at the University of Illinois working on soybean seed diseases, and in 1985 I got my PhD in plant pathology at UW-Madison working on tobacco mosaic virus, and how a plant infected with a mild strain of TMV can be protected against infection by a severe strain.
After 16 months as a post-doc at Agrigenetics working on transgenic virus-resistant crops on Madison’s East Side, I moved to Northern Illinois University. On June 3, 1991—it was a Monday— I returned to UW-Madison to lead the public outreach program at the Biotech Center and to serve as a Biotechnology Education Specialist with UW-Extension. With the exception of being a Congressional Science Fellow in 2000-2001 and serving as a speechwriter at the National Science Foundation 2008-2010, I’ve been here ever since.
On October 16, 1995, the Biotechnology Center moved into its current home, and the theme of my work adjusted to a focus on welcoming the public to come experience science at UW-Madison and, as my friend Ken Smith put it, to make the campus a “Destination for Exploration.”
Description: Tom will be speaking on the sagas of genetically engineered crops from the early days in the 1970’s, through the first field tests in the mid ‘80s (right here in Dane County), and on to commercialization in the mid ‘90s. Now we again face the questions of how another generation of new technologies such as CRISPR will be viewed, used and regulated around the country and across the globe.