Hirshberg who spoke on October 18th at the Music Hall Loft is the co-founder and chairman, author of Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World, and co-author of Label It Now: What You Need to Know About Genetically Engineered Foods.
Introductions opened with Less Cancer board Chairman Tom Sherman, MD introducing board member and award winning journalist Miles O’Brien who spoke briefly on following the money in the cancer industry and the role of prevention before introducing Hirshberg. The audience of community leaders including law makers had a lively and engaged question and answer portion of the event that was opened up by Miles O’Brien latter led by Less Cancer founder Bill Couzens.
Hirshberg spoke for an hour with a focus on GMO’s and the issue of labeling.
Discussing the debate about the benefits and risks of GE crops that may go on for a long time. Hirshberg brought to light that an entire generation will have grown up consuming GMO’s and further expanded on the fact that we should all have a choice about whether we want to participate in this grand experiment with our bodies and our environment. We have a right to know what’s in our food.
The Just Label It web site says that Three-quarters of the GE crop acres around the world are devoted to herbicide tolerant (HT) crops. Genetically engineered crops mean more herbicides can be used without harming the crop. The GE herbicide tolerant crops are patented and sold by the same companies that sell the herbicides. Genetically engineered crops have been credited with an increase of 383 million pounds of herbicide use in the U.S. over the first 13 years of commercial use (1996- 2008). In August of 2011, the US Geological Survey (USGS) reported that glyphosate (the active ingredient in the herbicide “Roundup”) is now a common component of the air and rain in the Midwest during the spring and summer. As a direct result of widespread use of genetically modified herbicide tolerant crops, populations of weeds (“superweeds”) have developed resistance to herbicides and are now present in 26 states. Not surprisingly, farmers have increasingly needed to revert to using older and more toxic herbicides like dicamba and 2,4-D (one of the ingredients in the Vietnam War era defoliant Agent Orange). These herbicides are known to cause reproductive problems, birth defects, and increased risk of cancer.
Gary is a frequent speaker on topics including sustainability, climate change, the profitability of green business and organic agriculture. He also advocates for change in national food and agriculture policies, including those regarding the labeling of genetically engineered foods.
During Gary’s 28 year career as Stonyfield’s president and “CE-Yo,” the company grew from a seven-cow organic farming school to $360 million in annual sales, by consistently producing great-tasting products and using innovative marketing techniques that blended the company’s social, environmental and financial missions.
In 2001, Stonyfield entered into a partnership with Groupe Danone, and in 2005, Gary was named managing director of Stonyfield Europe, a joint venture between the two firms with brands in Canada, Ireland and France. In early 2012, Gary handed off his president and CE-Yo roles to mission-driven business leader Walt Freese.
Prior to Stonyfield, Gary directed the Rural Education Center, the small organic farming school from which Stonyfield was spawned. Before that, Gary had served as executive director of The New Alchemy Institute, a research and education center dedicated to organic farming, aquaculture and renewable energy.
Gary serves on corporate and nonprofit boards including those of Applegate Farms, Honest Tea, Peak Organic Brewing, The Full Yield, Climate Counts, SweetGreen, RAMp Sports, Stonyfield Europe, Glenisk and the Danone Communities Fund.
In 2011, President Barack Obama appointed Gary to the Advisory Committee for Trade and Policy Negotiations, and Gary became a co-chair of AGree—a food and agricultural policy effort launched by eight of the world’s leading foundations.
Less Cancer Founder , Bill Couzens said, “we are very much appreciate Gary’s important work. Like Stonyfield Farm, the work for Less Cancer has always been about healthy food, healthy planet and healthy people.”
Next Generation Choices Foundation Board of Directors include Chairman Tom Sherman, MD, Chairman- Treasurer, Bill Couzens, Founder-President , Greg Lam, Vice President, Veronique Pittman, John Couzens, Stormy Stokes Hood, Ronald B Herberman, MD, Maryann Donovan, PhD MPH, Miles O’Brien.