Fayth Stephenson, an 18 year old high school senior at Greenwood High School in Millerstown, PA describes herself as “passionate about GMO education and awareness”. A transplant from the Jersey Shore, Fayth found a love for agriculture in rural Pennsylvania.
Becoming aware of several markets in her area that she believes are passing off genetically modified crops as organic produce, Fayth is looking to purchase a GMO Investigator Kit from Bio-Rad. Bio-Rad markets its device as being neutral in the GMO debate, simply a way for students who may “be interested to know how much
of the corn– or soy–based foods they eat has been genetically modified”. It works by testing for the presence of two of the most common DNA sequences found in food using GM ingredients ” the 35S promoter of the cauliflower mosaic virus and the terminator of the nopaline synthase gene of Agrobacterium tumefaciens”.
“I have devoted 3/4ths of my entire high school career to researching GMOs,” Fayth explained. “I actively compete in several state science competitions throughout the school year. These include, the PA Farm Show FFA Agriscience Fair, PA Junior Academy of Science, and Capital Area Science and Engineering Fair.”
Fayth has turned to crowd funding to raise the money for the project, “which costs about $245.00 plus costs for test materials”. Hoping to encourage the members of her local community to not fear conventional produce, she has been forced to work on a local farm to save money to help her mom with family finances with little left over for the project.
According to Fayth, “this project will be taken to the Pennsylvania State Farm Show Exposition to be judged in the FFA AgriScience Fair, as well as the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science (PAJAS) and the Capital Area Science and Engineering Fair”. If she succeeds at PAJAS she will have the opportunity to present her project at Pennsylvania State University.
“My goal, with this project is to test non USDA certified organic produce and ultimately expose leisurely labeled “organic” produce. I want our public to learn the facts and not fear their food. ”
You can help Fayth by donating to her GoFundMe page here: https://www.gofundme.com/gmo-research-project-2w3pm78