Religions' Response to Genetically Modified Foods

What concerns might persons committed to Jewish kosher, Muslim halal, or Hindu vegetarian diets have to genetically engineered food products containing transgenes from plant or animal sources that may be prohibited within those religions? What will be the impact of globally marketed genetically modified (GM) foods on the cultural practices and spiritual teachings of Indigenous peoples relating to their food production and consumption?

The University of Victoria’s Centre for Studies in Religion and Society upcoming 2007 Distinguished Speakers Series will explore the history and theology of food and dietary practice within the Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish and Indigenous traditions. In “Acceptable Genes? Religion, Culture and the Genetically Modified Foods Debate” international scholars will draw on a forthcoming centre study to discuss how religions are influencing consumer acceptance of the emerging GM food and health product industries. All lectures will be held on Sunday afternoons at Temple Emanu-el at 1461 Blanshard Street in Victoria.

February 4
“When You Plow the Field, Your Torah is With You: Acceptable Genetic Modification and GMO Food in the Jewish Tradition(s)”
Laurie Zoloth, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago

February 11
“Why Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Beliefs Matter in the Debate on GM Foods”
Nancy Turner, School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria

February 25
“The Karma of Genetically Modified Food: A Buddhist Perspective”
David Loy, Besl Family Chair of Ethics, Religion and Society, Xavier University, Cincinnati

March 4
“May We See a Hundred Autumns: Hindu Attitudes to Genetically Modified Food”
Vasudha Narayanan, University of Florida

The series is being offered by the centre and UVic’s Division of Continuing Studies as a course and the fee is $50.88 (including GST) for all four sessions or $15.90 (includes GST) for a single session. To register call 250-472-4747 and quote course code ASRS032.

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Media contacts

Conrad Brunk (Centre for Studies in Religion and Society) at 250-721-6325 or

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Keywords: religion, food, plants, agriculture

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