Iowans who are curious or concerned about where their food comes from might consider a trip to Ames for tonight’s event, called a Food Dialogue, or they can participate via the internet.

Mindy Williamson is spokeswoman for the Iowa Corn Growers Association, which is teaming up with the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance to sponsor the program.  Williamson says, “It’s supposed to be a conversation about food and we are focusing on organic, talking about the definition of local food and also talking about GMOs.”

The issue of genetically-modified organisms continues to be a topic of discussion for many consumers, farmers and activists, and she says it will definitely be a point for conversation at this event. “We have an evenly-balanced panel of experts and farmers who are going to give consumers, the general public who are in attendance and also those who are live streaming the opportunity to ask questions and get answers straight from the sources.”

She says they’ve assembled a panel that is very knowledgeable on an array of ag issues, the GMO debate in particular. Williamson says, “We have some farmers who use conventional farming practices here in Iowa and we also have some farmers who grow organically to talk about what are the issues, what do we need to be concerned about as consumers or what do we not need to worry about as consumers.”

Panelists include: Larry Cleverly, an organic farmer, supplier and farmers market vendor; Dr. Wayne Parrott, a professor with the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at the University of Georgia; Wayne Humphreys, a crop and livestock farmer; Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now!; Katie Olthoff, a Common Ground volunteer and turkey farmer; and John Schillinger, a crop researcher.

The Food Dialogue begins at 7 P.M. at Iowa State University’s Scheman Building. It’s open to the public and it will be streamed live online at:

(Reporting Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)