About our Speakers




Adam Gilden Tsai, MD, practices internal medicine at the Mercy Hospital of Philadelphia and at the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He is a local chapter leader of the Physicians for a National Health Program, and has assisted with policy development for the University of Pennsylvania Health System. Dr. Tsai is a member of, an organization that encourages physicians to forego all gifts from the pharmaceutical industry.

Anuradha Mittal, a native of India, founded a new policy think tank, The Oakland Institute, after spending nearly a decade at Food First and serving as its co director. She is also the author and editor of numerous articles and books including America Needs Human Rights, The Future in the Balance: Essays on Globalization and Resistance, and Voices From the South: Third World Speaks Out Against Genetic Engineering. Her opinion pieces have been published in widely circulated newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Bangkok Post, and The Nation.

Beth McConnell is the Director of the Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group (PennPIRG). She began working with the state PIRGs in 1993 as a Telephone Outreach Project Director, became PennPIRG’s Clean Air and Energy Advocate in 1999, and became PennPIRG’s Director in 2002. Ms. McConnell works to promote safe, affordable health care, progressive tax and budget policies, and pro-consumer legislation.

Brian Tokar is the Director of the Biotechnology Project at the Institute for Social Ecology in Plainfield, Vermont. He is the author of The Green Alternative and Earth for Sale, and has edited two volumes on the politics of biotechnology: Redesigning Life?(London: Zed Books, 2001) and the recent collection Gene Traders: Biotechnology, World Trade and the Globalization of Hunger(Burlington, VT: Toward Freedom, 2004). His articles on environmental issues, emerging ecological movements, and resistance to genetic engineering have appeared in Z Magazine, The Ecologist, Earth Island Journal, Wild Matters (formerly Food & Water Journal), Toward Freedom, and many other publications, and he has lectured across the US and internationally on these and other topics.

Carmelo Ruiz Marrero is an activist and journalist from Puerto Rico, founder and director of the Puerto Rico Project on Biosafety, a research associate at the Institute for Social Ecology, and a member of the advisory board of the Minneapolis-based Connection to the Americas newsletter. Carmelo has written freelance stories for the New York Daily News, Interpress Service, Corporate Watch, and the Earth Island Journal. He has hosted educational radio and television shows in Vermont and Puerto Rico, and recently finished a book in Spanish on biotechnology and globalization.

Deborah Koons Garcia directed, produced, and wrote The Future of Food, a widely acclaimed documentary that �offers an in-depth investigation into the disturbing truth behind the unlabeled, patented, genetically engineered foods that have quietly filled U.S. grocery store shelves for the past decade.� It was shown over a dozen times as a work in progress in Mendocino County, CA. before the March 2004 election and was a key element in passing the landmark Measure H, which bans the planting of genetically engineered crops in the county.

Evelyne Shuster, a philosopher and medical ethicist, is the founder and chair of the Ethics Advisory Committee, and the human rights and ethics program at the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center. She also serves as adjunct associate professor of philosophy in the department of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. She speaks frequently on human rights and ethics issues in global research, particularly AIDS trials in Africa, and is a member of Global Lawyers and Physicians and Physicians for Human Rights. She has worked with Native Americans on issues such as genetic stigmatization and discrimination, genetic exploitation, biocolonialism and biopiracy.

George Annas is an internationally recognized scholar in health law, bioethics, and human rights. He has written or edited more than a dozen books in these fields, and writes a regular feature for the New England Journal of Medicine. George is often referred to as “the father of patient rights.” He also teaches in the medical and law schools, and is currently ranked as the nation’s most cited law professor in the field of health law. He is the co-founder of Global Lawyers and Physicians and sits on the board of Council for Responsible Genetics. His major current research interests are bioterrorism and civil liberties, genetic privacy and translational genetics, and the theoretical conjunction of bioethics and human rights.

Ignacio Chapela is Assistant Professor of Microbial Ecology at the Dept. of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, UC Berkeley, and the founder of The Mycological Facility in Oaxaca, Mexico, a facility dealing with questions of natural resources and indigenous rights, based in and run by indigenous communities in Oaxaca. Prof. Chapela�s publications span from the academic to various media collaborations with journalists worldwide, including documentaries and news media. He is a Board member with the Pesticide Action Network, the Council for Responsible Genetics, and an Advisory Board member of The Sunshine Project, a citizen’s initiative on questions of bio-safety and bio-warfare.

Inga Olson manages the programs at Tri-Valley CAREs that monitor environmental impacts from nuclear weapons design and development work at Livermore Lab, as well as assisting sick lab workers and their survivors from Livermore and other Department of Energy nuclear facilities in California. She works actively with local, state and federal government representatives and elected officials on initiatives and legislation to stop the development of new US nuclear capabilities and to address the deadly contamination and public and worker health problems that go hand-in-hand with nuclear weapons work.

Javiera Rulli is a biologist and part of Grupo de Reflexi�n Rural, an activist and research group in Argentina that works on issues of agriculture and food sovereignty, GMOs and political ecology. Rulli lived and studied biology in Holland, working with Action for Solidarity, Equality, Ecology and Diversity, and participating in anti-GM, Climate Change, and UN and Food Sovereignty campaigns. In 2004 she helped bring peasant movements, indigenous organizations, unemployed organizations and ecology groups at the Iguazu Counter Conference, to coordinate future strategies for an agricultural model founded on the principles of food sovereignty, land reform and local development.

Jos� DeMarco is a Queer, HIV-positive AIDS activist. He has been a member of Philadelphia ACT-UP for the past ten years.

Judy Wicks is owner and founder of Philadelphia�s 22-year-old White Dog Cafe, and is a national leader in the local, living economies movement. She is co-founder and co-chair of both the national Business Alliance for Local Living Economies and the local Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia. The White Dog Cafe sources all produce from local organic family farms, as well as humanely raised meat and poultry. The Cafe has helped lead campaigns to ban the sale of endangered fish and the use of GMO products. One hundred percent of electricity is generated by wind power and entry-level employees make a minimum �living wage.� Twenty percent of profits are contributed to the White Dog Cafe Foundation and other non-profits.

Laura Kahn is a general internist and a member of the research staff in the Program on Science and Global Security in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University. She has practiced and taught medicine for ten years, and she has worked at the Food and Drug Administration conducting drug safety surveillance studies. Subsequently, she worked at the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services where she focused on patient safety issues, medical errors, and hospital quality of care oversight. After receiving a Master�s degree in Public Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Dr. Kahn began her research in biodefense and public health policy.

Lucy Sharratt has been campaigning on genetic engineering in Canada for over 5 years, working with Sierra Club of Canada’s Safe Food, Sustainable Agriculture Campaign and with the corporate watchdog organization the Polaris Institute. Lucy is based in Ottawa where she is now assisting the emerging Ban Terminator Campaign, a renewed global effort to ban Terminator technology/suicide seeds.

Medea Benjamin is Founding Director of the San Francisco-based human rights organization Global Exchange. She worked for ten years as an economist and nutritionist in Latin America and Africa for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization, and the Swedish International Development Agency to develop more sustainable models of development. She was also a senior analyst with the Institute for Food and Development Policy (Food First) in California. Global Exchange works on improving the labor and environmental practices of US multinational corporations, and the policies of international institutions such as the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Michael Hansen is a Research Associate with the Consumer Policy Institute, a division of Consumers Union (publisher of Consumer Reports magazine). He is the author of Biotechnology and Milk: Benefit or Threat?, published in 1990, and has been largely responsible for developing CU positions on safety, testing and labeling of genetically engineered food. Dr. Hansen was an advisor on biotechnology issues for the public sector International Agricultural Research Centers (IARCs), and currently serves on the USDA Advisory committee on Agricultural Biotechnology.

Michael Susko is the president of CIRCARE, Citizens for Responsible Care and Research, the oldest nonprofit organization advocating for protection of human research subjects. Its vice-president is Paul Gelsinger, father of Jesse Gelsinger, who was killed in an experimental gene therapy trial at the University of Pennsylvania in 1999. Susko has authored various works, including Cry of the Invisible, a collection of oral histories of those in the psychiatric system, and The Fragility of Evolution, a re-envisioning of biology emphasizing protection of fragile populations and periods of change.

Nelson Carrasquillo comes from Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Currently he is the Executive Director of CATA (Farmworker Support Committee), which works to enable and empower migrant workers located in Mexico, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico as they struggle for healthier living and working conditions, adequate housing, environmental justice and dignity and respect.

Noli Hoye is the founder and director of GMO-Free Kauai, a grassroots citizen group resisting genetic engineering in the Hawaiian islands. After helping form and direct GMO-Free Hawaii, a state-wide coalition of genetic engineering activist groups from all the major Hawaiian islands, she went on to become the national coordinator for the Genetic Engineering Action Network, working to coordinate and support GEAN’s nearly 100 member groups from across the US.

Paul Connett teaches environmental chemistry at St. Lawrence University in New York State. A graduate of Cambridge University, Connett holds a Ph.D. from Dartmouth College. He is a founder of the Fluoride Action Network, which raises awareness about the common U.S. practice of fluoridation of public water supplies, a practice to which he is opposed. He has received numerous awards and citations for his efforts as an environmental activist.

Pedro Rodriguez has been the executive director of the Action Alliance of Senior Citizens of Greater Philadelphia since April 1999. He is also the Executive Vice-President of the Alliance for Retired Americans, a national organization of retirees and senior citizens with more than 3 million members. He was Assistant Director of the Philadelphia Empowerment Zone under Mayor Ed Rendell and worked for four years as a Legislative Director in the Philadelphia City Council. Mr. Rodriguez is also the Associate Editor of the bilingual weekly Community Focus/Enfoque Comunal, the largest bilingual newspaper in Pennsylvania.

Percy Schmeiser is a long time farmer and farm equipment dealer from the small rural community of Bruno Saskatchewan. When Schmeiser�s Canola fields were contaminated with Monsanto’s Round-Up Ready Canola Monsanto argued in court that Schmeiser must pay Monsanto their Technology Fee of $15/acre regardless of whether Schmeiser knew or not that his canola field was contaminated with the Roundup Ready gene, or whether or not he took advantage of the technology The Supreme Court of Canada in 2004 upheld Monsanto�s patent rights, but threw out all monetary damages imposed by the lower courts.

Pete Shanks is the author of Human Genetic Engineering: A Guide for Activists, Skeptics, and the Very Perplexed. He is a writer and grassroots political activist who now lives in Santa Cruz, California. He has worked for peace and justice on three continents over four decades, with a particular focus on promoting the equal treatment of all people.

Rajani Bhatia is a member of the Committee on Women, Population and the Environment (CWPE). She is an activist and writer in the international movement for women’s health, reproductive rights and justice. She is a contributing author in Jael Silliman and Anannya Bhattacharjee, eds., Policing the National Body: Race, Gender and Criminalization (Boston: South End Press, 2002), and Abby L. Ferber, ed., Home-Grown Hate: Gender and White Supremacy, (Routledge, 2004).

Randy Zauhar is an Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and the Director of the Graduate Bioinformatics Program at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. He received his MS and PhD degrees from Penn State University.

Ricarda Steinbrecher is the Co-Director of EcoNexus, a not-for profit, public interest research organization and science watchdog based in the UK. She holds a PhD in molecular genetics from the University of London and has worked as a research scientist in the field of mutational analysis, gene identification and gene therapy in university and hospital settings. Dr. Steinbrecher has been an advisor and consultant to many national and international organizations, particularly around the international negotiations and implementation of the Cartagena Biosafety Protocol, and is co-author of Hungry Corporations: Transnational biotech companies colonise the food chain (London: Zed Books, 2003).

Sheldon Krimsky is professor of Urban & Environmental Policy & Planning at Tufts University. Professor Krimsky’s research has focused on the linkages between science/technology, ethics/values and public policy. Professor Krimsky served on the National Institutes of Health’s Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee from 1978-1981. Currently he serves on the Board of Directors of the Council for Responsible Genetics and as a Fellow of the Hastings Center on Bioethics.

Shepherd Ogden took over his grandfather’s organic market garden in 1980 and over the next 23 years turned it into an organic nursery, garden center and seed business with sales over $1 million. He left the business in 2003 and is now Project Manager of Online Training at the Rodale Research Institute in Kutztown, Pennsylvania.

Sue Gracey has been involved with social justice work since she was a teenager in the early 1950s, and is an active member of the Women�s International League for Peace and Freedom. She participated throughout the fifties and sixties in civil rights, anti-nuclear and anti-war demonstrations. Sue is currently active in opposing bioweaponry, focusing intensively on the high-level containment (BSL4) laboratory that Boston University is proposing to build in Boston.

Susan Hammond is the Deputy Director of the Fund for Reconciliation and Development. Over the past 10 years she has lived and worked in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam focusing on projects that help build mutual understanding and respect between the people of the US and the people of these three nations. Susan has also coordinated educational projects, speaking tours and conferences that help examine and address the effects of Agent Orange and unexploded ordnance. She is currently working with other NGOs, universities and individuals to develop an educational and fundraising campaign to address the long term health and ecological consequences of the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam and elsewhere.

William Weaver is an internationally known food historian and author of twelve books. Weaver is a Contributing editor of GOURMET, and Professor of Culinary Arts and Food Studies for Drexel University�s Goodwin College of Professional Studies. He is an organic gardener, a life member of Seed Savers Exchange, a member of Arche Noah (an organization in Austria devoted to preserving threatened agricultural plants in Central Europe), and a member of the Henry Doubleday Research Association, which maintains the Ryton Organic Gardens at Ryton-on-Dunsmore near Coventry, England.