Taxco Restaurant holds STEM Cafe Event

By Jessi Haish

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were discussed over Mexican dishes Thursday night.

Thomas Sims, associate professor of biological sciences, talked “GMO’s – Miracle Crops or Frankenfoods” in a NIU STEM Cafe Event at Taxco Restaurant, 223 W. State St. in Sycamore.

“How natural is the food we eat today?” Sims asked a group of about 50 people.

This event was yet another in the STEM Cafe events, and one that was highly anticipated.

“People are always concerned and wondering what is good for them or not,” said Judith Dymond, Outreach and Engagement associate for STEM Outreach. “People really want to hear about this topic.”

While genetically modified food can provide nutrients, for potential consumers it brings up concerns such as possible health effects, the use of pesticides, and environmental and legal issues.

Sims acknowledged that the concerns exist, but they are things that don’t need to be a cause for concern.

“Correlation is not causation,” Sims said. “People have been eating this food for 20 years now.”

Sims has been a part of the GMO movement since the very beginning. He worked with molecular biology during his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), in the 1980s. His group worked with the manipulation of tobacco and soybean genes to see how they function with each other. Sims’ group at UCLA was the second lab in the world to work with these sort of modifications.

As for the future, Sims hopes that changes and developments will continue to occur.

“Fortunately, technology is better in 2013 than it was in 1986,” Sims said.