Colorado State University to Host Lecture on Organic Farming and the Future of Food on Nov. 7

In modern agricultural politics, organic farming and genetic engineering occupy opposite ends of the spectrum. For Pamela Ronald and Raoul Adamchak, a husband-and-wife team from the University of California-Davis, the world is not so black and white.

The couple will talk about “Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming and the Future of Food” at the 11th annual Thornton-Massa Lecture on Sunday, Nov. 7, at Colorado State University. The event is sponsored by the College of Agricultural Sciences and College of Natural Sciences.

The event, from 3- 4:30 p.m. in the Lory Student Center North Ballroom, is free and open to the public.

Ronald, a professor of plant pathology at UC-Davis, studies the role that genes play in a plant’s response to its environment. Her laboratory has genetically engineered rice for resistance to diseases and flooding, which harm rice crops in Asia and Africa. She serves as Vice President for the Feedstocks Division and Director of Grass Genetics at the Joint Bioenergy Institute, and writes an award-winning blog on food, farming and genetics.

Ronald and Adamchak, a farmer and manager of an organic farm at UC-Davis, are co-authors of "Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetic and the Future of Food.” Together, they explore the juncture where their methods meet to ensure environmentally sustainable production.

Ronald will also visit faculty and graduate students and host a traditional research seminar at 4 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 8, in Room 108 of the Natural Resources Building on the Colorado State campus.

The Thornton-Massa Lecture honors the late Dr. Emil Massa of Denver and the late Bruce and Mildred Thornton, who shared a common interest in biodiversity, plant genetics, agriculture and horticulture. These commonalities led them to endow an annual public lecture through the Colorado State University College of Agricultural Sciences and College of Natural Sciences.

Massa earned a medical degree in 1953 from Northwestern University and worked at Denver’s St. Joseph’s Hospital from 1960 to 1991. After retiring from orthopedic surgery, Massa spent his time feeding his love for plants at the Denver Botanic Gardens.

Bruce and Mildred Thornton shared a lifelong interest in and commitment to the study, identification, and preservation of seeds. Mildred Thornton attended then-Colorado State College, and after receiving her master’s degree in Botany, went to work as a junior botanist at the Federal Seed Laboratory in Washington, D.C. Bruce Thornton served on the Colorado State College faculty and the Agricultural Experiment Station staff from 1927-1962, and he headed the Colorado State Seed Laboratory from 1940-1961. They married in 1930, and when Bruce retired in 1961, Mildred took over the directorship of the State Seed Laboratory, where she had worked intermittently for 20 years.

Previous Thornton-Massa lecture speakers include: Steve Baenziger, a leading researcher on small grains breeding from University of Nebraska; Paul Ehrlich, a butterfly specialist and biologist from Stanford University; Rebecca Nelson, a leading researcher on improving disease resistance in crops; Dennis Gonsalves, an expert on plant viral diseases; and Steve Tanksley, a geneticist at Cornell University.