converged on Elon University Friday for workshops
and discussions on environmental sustainability.
term [sustainability] really is a buzzword, isn't it?" said
Hart, a professor of management at Cornell University, during
a keynote speech.
He said that
as it stands now, sustainability has such a broad definition that
it is hard to give it a concrete operative meaning. During the panel
"Food by Design," experts discussed how the concept of
sustainability specifically applies to local agriculture. The panelists
showed how sustainability is not just the capability of an industry,
such as agriculture, to survive, but also not to damage other systems
in the process.
sessions in the afternoon addressed the idea of planning for sustainability
by design. One of them addressed issues surrounding the production
of food. Among the panelists, opinions polarized over the topic
of biotechnology - the use of genetic manipulation to make useful
agriculture must be environmentally sound," said Tony Kleese,
director of the North
Carolina Farm Stewardship Organization. Kleese said the risks
to the stability of the environment posed by biotechnology are too
great. He and his organization promote organic farming.
itself is only a tool. It has a potential for benefit and there
are risks also associated with it," said Linda Niedziela, professor
of biology at Elon University. Niedziela said that there have been
no widespread harmful consequences of biotech foods. Up to 75 percent
of the processed foods on the markets already contain genetically
engineered products, she said.
an organizer for the Farm Labor Organizing
Committee, says it's not enough for farmers to be able to make
a decent living. Farm workers need to be taken care of as well,
he says. "I've been really amazed at the conditions that local
farm workers live in," he said. The ideas of fair wages and
livable conditions for workers lend themselves to the ideas behind
sustainability. "What form workers want isn't charity or handouts,"
Greene said. "We can either bring third-world countries to
our back yard, or we can raise conditions."
Orr, a professor at Oberlin College and another keynote speaker,
said that specific techniques and methods are not the most important
ideas of sustainability. "It's how we live on this planet,"
said Orr. "We need to be students of how our world works."
by Elon's Center for Environmental studies, "Roadmap to the
Future: Tomorrow by Design" is the fourth annual environmental
forum hosted by Elon University. Events were held all day Oct. 8
and included an alternative-fuel automotive show, organic lunch
menu and sessions on sustainable community and business designs.