The GEO-PIE Project

From SourceWatch
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The GEO-PIE Project was the acronym for the Genetically Engineered Organisms Public Issues Education Project at Cornell University.[1] According to the project's website, "Because of the rapidity with which this technology [genetic engineering] is being applied and has entered the marketplace, New York State extension educators will likely receive an increasing number of requests for information and help with decision-making related to GE foods. Nutrition and agriculture educators alike have identified a need for the development of effective programmatic responses to GE food and crop issues at the local level within the Cornell Cooperative Extension system. The primary goal of this project is to develop materials for effective public issues education (PIE) capacity related to genetically engineered organisms among CCE agricultural and nutrition educators."

The GEO-PIE Project ran from 2000 to 2009.[2]

Unbiased Information

The GEO-PIE Project claimed to provide unbiased information regarding GMOs. Its website said:[1]

"Public issues education is an educational strategy that seeks to shed light on a subject of particular concern to the public, in order to help citizens make well-informed decisions. All too often, the term "education" is applied to programs that are, in reality, persuasion and advocacy. Not so, here. The GEO-PIE Project makes a deliberate attempt to provide useful information about genetic engineering in a balanced and objective manner, and lets the reader decide. The Project is an in-depth discussion of relevant scientific research, the areas of uncertainty, and the associated interpretations of the research. Further, because this is a public issue, we will also explore not just the scientific issues, but many of the social and ethical issues surrounding genetic engineering.
"This also means, however, that readers are not likely to find easy answers on this site. Despite the claims of advocates and activists alike, the realities of genetic engineering are often much more complex than simple yes-or-no, all-or-none formulas. Our educational goal is that our readers will gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of the subject, carefully weigh the risks, benefits, and uncertainties, and become better able to participate in informed discussion.
"As the public land grant institution of New York, Cornell University, through its Cooperative Extension Program, responds to the needs of the citizens of the state. Because genetic engineering has become a topic of growing public interest and concern, Cornell supports public education with credible, balanced information. The Cornell community, like the public at large, encompasses a great diversity of opinions and interpretations on the subject of genetic engineering. Our challenge is to provide a format in which many perspectives may be respectfully heard and thoughtfully explored."


The GEO-PIE Project was funded entirely via a federal grant from the Smith-Lever Fund, which supports state agricultural extension programs.[1]


The following people worked on the GEO-PIE Project at its start in 2000:[1]

  • Principal Writer & Website Designer: T. Clint Nesbitt, Extension Associate, Department of Communication, Cornell University
  • Co-Director: James Shanahan, Associate Professor, Department of Communication, Cornell University
  • Co-Director: Jennifer Wilkins, Senior Extension Associate, Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University

In 2004, T. Clint Nesbitt left the project when he was awarded a 2004-2005 Science and Technology Policy Fellowship sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He served as Fellow in the office of the Science Advisor at USDA APHIS' Biotechnology Regulatory Service in Riverdale, MD.[2] Shanahan and Wilkins continued on as co-directors, until Wilkins left Shanahan as the sole Director in 2006.[3] Shanahan stayed on until August 2007, when Bruce Lewenstein, a professor in the Department of Communication, took over as Director for the remainder of the Project.[4] Lewenstein had been a member of the Advisory Committee since at least 2003.

Advisory Committee as of 2001:[1]

Project Collaborators as of 2001:[1]

Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch Articles


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 About the GEO-PIE Project, Capture of the website on December 19, 2001, Accessed via the Internet Wayback Machine on October 15, 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 About the GEO-PIE Project, Capture of the website on October 12, 2004, Accessed via the Internet Wayback Machine on October 15, 2011.
  3. About the GEO-PIE Project, Capture of the website on April 22, 2006, Accessed via the Internet Wayback Machine on October 15, 2011.
  4. About the GEO-PIE Project, Capture of the website on August 23, 2007, Accessed via the Internet Wayback Machine on October 15, 2011.

External Resources

  • Dominique Brossard, James Shanahan, T. Clint Nesbitt, The Media, the Public and Agricultural Biotechnology, CABI, 2007.

External Articles