From the editor:

Food for thought

Nov. 28, 2018

Well, how was your Thanksgiving? Did you get enough to eat? Spend some quality time with family? Go to a parade or watch some football? Mine didn’t work out exactly as planned, yet I still managed to eat more than I should have, see family and friends and properly give thanks. All in all, it was a pretty good day.

My family’s conversations are usually pretty genial around the holidays, but I know that’s not the case for everyone. Holiday dinners can easily break out into heated discussions about politics, religion, social issues and any number of hot-button topics. Even food itself can cause arguments — and I don’t mean about the use of marshmallows on the sweet potatoes.

The use of GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, in food production, is one of the most debated topics about what we eat. It’s tough to sort through the information from both sides and almost impossible to figure out what’s true and what isn’t.

Brad Day, a professor of plant, soil and microbial sciences, says, “It’s important to understand that all organisms — not just those that are the basis of foods — are genetically modified in some way, shape or form.” According to him, even radiation from the sun can cause changes in the genome.

Day is just one of the MSU scientists who is working to answer questions about whether GMOs are safe and necessary. Check out the MSUTODAY FEATURE: GMOs 101, to get real answers from expert Spartan researchers.

Douglas Buhler, director of MSU AgBioResearch, is another scientist examining GMOs and their implications. He says researchers, including himself, haven’t been effective listeners and need to change their actions and words to gain trust from society. Read his FACULTY VOICE: Look in the mirror, to learn more about his thoughts on the topic.

For me, Thanksgiving always reminds me to be grateful for the food on my table. I’m always taken back to when I traveled the world to places where food insecurity, devastating malnutrition and famine are daily threats. I’m also reminded to be grateful for Spartan researchers who are dedicated to finding solutions to this incredibly challenging problem.

I also give thanks, every day, for good health. As someone with a heart condition, I never take any day for granted. As someone who has a little too much perspective on my own mortality, I’m eternally grateful for doctors, nurses, scientists, engineers and countless others who dedicate their lives to healing others.

Justin Alexander, a junior majoring in experience architecture, knows all too well how good health isn’t something to be taken for granted. Diagnosed with cancer at the end of his freshman year, he found the strength in the Spartan community to fight the battle and return to MSU. Watch the moving video in the STUDENT VIEW: Spartan strong, to learn more about this courageous young man and his determination to get back to school.

I can’t imagine the battle Justin fought to get well and return to campus. I’m proud of the Spartans who joined with him to make sure he wasn’t fighting alone. I’m proud, but not surprised, because that’s what Spartans do.

Yesterday, thousands of Spartans let students know they aren’t alone by pitching in during Give Green Day, to give back and help current and future students. More than $730,000 was raised in a 24-hour period. Even if you missed it yesterday, there’s still time to make a difference. I'm certain there's a college or program you can get behind supporting.

It is the season of giving, but not all gifts come with a price tag. Some of the best gifts come simply from the heart. With that spirit in mind, this year, we’re asking Spartans to open their hearts and share a special wish for other Spartans. We’re collecting them through social media and will eventually allow current students to receive a message of good will from those we receive. It’s easy, it’s free and it could make a difference. Check out What’s your wish? and submit yours today. (And be on the lookout for more on this project in the future.)

Maybe your Thanksgiving didn’t turn out as planned. Maybe you even got into a fight with your uncle and had to duck a flying crescent roll. Put that in the past, be grateful for the good things in your life and take a minute to share some good will with someone else. #SpartansWill.

Lisa Mulcrone
Editor, MSUToday
twitter bird@LMulcrone

Photo by Derrick L. Turner