Eco-briefs | GMO documentary to screen at eTown Hall

A scene from the documentary GMO OMG
Photo courtesy of GMO OMG

GMO documentary to screen at eTown Hall

The search for food that’s not genetically modified — and answers to why and how genetically altered foods may affect the people who consume them and live near where those crops are grown — drove writer, director and producer Jeremy Seifert to create the feature-length documentary GMO OMG. His inquiry began after hearing that Haitian farmers burned 475 tons of hybrid corn and vegetable seeds gifted to them after the January 2010 earthquake.

“I wanted to make a film to say to my friends and neighbors out there, my family, my community, my endlessly diverse fellow Americans: Chemical companies are feeding you and your family. They don’t care if it’s good for you or bad for you,” Seifert said, according to the film’s press materials. “If they have their way, everything will be genetically modified, so they can patent and own food, controlling every aspect of it, and eliminating your choice.”

The film, which will screen at eTown Hall on Aug. 21, looks at loss of seed diversity, unknown health risks facing consumers of GMO foods, the accompanying chemical use and the federal government’s relationship with seed producer Monsanto. According to Seifert’s research, there are 420 million acres of GMO crops grown worldwide.

The film will be preceded by mingling and refreshments at 6 p.m.; the screening starts at 7 p.m., and a 90-minute Q&A will follow the film.

— Elizabeth Miller

Potential hydrogen fuel production system developed at CU

A University of Colorado Boulder team from the chemical and biological engineering department has devised a solar-thermal system to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, a step that may pave the way toward using hydrogen as fuel.

“We have designed something here that is very different from other methods and, frankly, something that nobody thought was possible before,” said Alan Weimer, a CU professor and research group leader. “Splitting water with sunlight is the Holy Grail of a sustainable hydrogen economy.”

The CU method uses sunlight concentrated by a vast array of mirrors in a tower to generate temperatures of up to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit, which could then be put into a reactor of metal oxides. As the metal oxide compound heats, it releases oxygen atoms. Adding steam generated by boiling water then causes oxygen from the water molecules to adhere to the metal oxide, releasing hydrogen for collection.

The system is unique in its ability to conduct two chemical reactions at the same temperature, rather than heating and cooling the components to release the hydrogen, saving both time and heat.

— Elizabeth Miller

Event to educate oil and gas activists

Erie Rising will host a free workshop, Tools for Activism on Oil and Gas Development, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 24, to educate community organizers on the health impacts of oil and gas activity, the latest air quality rules and how to share stories with the public.

Dr. Theo Colborn, Dr. Detlev Helmig of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research and other health professionals are expected to appear as guest speakers at the event.

The event will be held at the Erie Community Center Mitchell Room, 450 Powers St. in Erie. RSVP to

— Elizabeth Miller