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FMS student addresses State Senate


Amelia Dmowska a Farragut Middle School eighth-grader, learned first-hand it is never too early to take an active part in your government.

Amelia testified Tuesday, Jan. 29, before Tennessee State Se-nate and its Commerce, Labor and Agriculture Committee on behalf of Senate Bill 2592, which she inspired Tennessee Sen. Tim Burchett, R-7, to write.

“[The Bill] was to introduce labeling in genetically modified foods and for those that contain genetically modified ingredients,” Amelia (pictured right) said.

“I talked about why I thought we should have labeling and that consumers should have the chance to choose what they are eating and the right to know what they are eating,” she added.

SB2592 would require all food for human consumption that has been genetically altered or modified, including food containing ingredients that have been genetically altered or modified, to be labeled as such, or that appropriate notice be given to the public.

Burchett (pictured right) ag-reed to write the bill after visiting Karen Rehder’s eighth-grade language arts class to be interviewed for the class’ CSPAN Classroom’s StudentCam 2008 project.

Amelia and other members of her team, Heather Buchanan and Helen Boone, produced a documentary entitled “What are you Eating? The Controversy Surrounding GM Foods.”

Rehder invited Burchett to be part of the documentary be-cause she thought it would be interesting to have a local political face in the films. She said she had no idea it would result in a trip to the state legislature for her and Amelia.

“It was a surprise. Amelia posed a follow-up question to a question one of her teammates had asked [Burchett] and she was not satisfied with his answer, so she asked it again, and at that point he said he would take it one step further and when Legislature reconvened he would propose that legislation,” Rehder said.

Amelia and her team researched the project extensively, talking to several scientists at The University of Tennessee as well as scientists at Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, Calif., and a food-labeling expert from Warsaw Poland, Izabella Tanska.

“At the beginning we just chose the topic and we didn’t really know that much about it, but through the process we learned a lot and we were curious about the labeling of genetically modified foods,” Amelia said.

She said the group was concerned with the long-term effects of human consumption of GM foods and with the effect these foods might have on the environment.

“The concern is when scientists create these super plants that can be drought-resistant, all the other plants may die out because these plants will live and there will not be any plant. diversity.

“The biggest issue is the diversity, but there is also concern that when you take the B-T-G [Brassica turgor gene-26] gene and transfer it a plant that some insects [that eat the plant]could die.

“We just do not know enough about the long term effects yet,” she added.

The decision on the bill was postponed until Tuesday, Feb. 12, and though Amelia does not expect it pass, she said her main objective has been met; promoting awareness of the issue and encouraging others to take part in their government.

Of Amelia and her team, Rehder said, “You always have bright students, but there is a certain type of student that a teacher has maybe five of in an entire career, and I have three of those students in one class this year.”

Should we look for Amelia’s name on an election ballot in the future? As of right now, she thinks not.

“It was a good experience for me. I like learning about it, I don’t really like politics that much,” she said.

 

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