Food for Thought

The exchange between a chef and a Monsanto spokeswoman was civilized, but questions about what we eat leave a bitter aftertaste

The speakers ended in a draw, Cooper repeating that although she has no doubt that biotech is part of our future, she's not comfortable with the way it's proceeding.

"I hope you get there soon," teased Marshall, "because there are a lot of things that, if we waited to find out if it was safe for our grandchildren, then they'd be saying, what about their grandchildren, and we'd be 300 years down the road."

Karen Marshall (left) and Ann Cooper at The Crossing
Jay Fram
Karen Marshall (left) and Ann Cooper at The Crossing

The next week, back at the Ross School, Cooper says she found the St. Louis crowd ... interesting: "Mostly I tend to preach to the choir. This definitely wasn't the choir. There's certainly a core group of chefs and farmers and people who care about food in St. Louis, but the controversy doesn't seem to be resonating there in the same compelling fashion. Monsanto's been in that town a long time." If she and Marshall talked past each other on Saturday morning, she adds, it's because Monsanto is coming from the perspective of a chemical company with a new product -- a widget -- whereas she's coming from the perspective of a chef: "They want the debate to be about the gene they're inserting. I want it to be about the tomato."

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