Mark Schapiro

Author, "Seeds of Resistance," and Lecturer, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism

Award-winning investigative journalist focusing on the environment and science. His most recent book, SEEDS OF RESISTANCE: The Fight to Save Our Food Supply is an investigation into the seeds we need to deal with accelerating climate stress, and the fight to control them. His articles also appear in numerous publications, including Harpers, The Nation, Newsweek, Mother Jones, and the Guardian. He is currently a Lecturer at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, and was formerly the Senior Correspondent at the Center for Investigative Reporting. Previous books include THE END of STATIONARITY: Searching for the New Normal in the Age If Carbon Shock; and EXPOSED: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What’s at Stake for American Power.

Mark is speaking at

October 10, 2019
1:00 pm - 5:00 pm


  • Mark Schapiro (Tour Leader) Author, "Seeds of Resistance," and Lecturer, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism


Protecting Our Food From Climatic and Other Catastrophes: Inside North America’s Biggest Repository of Seeds and Animal Germplasm

The converging forces of climate change and corporate consolidation are presenting unprecedented threats to the Earth’s ability to grow food. We’ll take an exclusive tour through a facility at the front lines of ensuring our ability to respond to these pressures — the USDA’s National  Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation, on the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Here, just minutes from the SEJ conference hub in the Lory Student Center, is the oldest and largest repository of plant and animal DNA — aka, more than a million seed samples, and the germplasm and semen of beef and dairy cattle, chickens, turkeys and other commercial animals. This material is considered critical to enabling the food system to respond as conditions shift dramatically in this country and around the world.

We’ll take an exclusive tour of the facility guided by top scientists working with plant and animal genetics as the institution tries to address the accelerating pace of environmental change.

The tour will take roughly 2 1/2-3 hours, with stops at the the Lab responsible for tracking and storing germplasm for our nation’s beef, pork, chicken, turkey and other commercial animal industries; the lab where seed varieties are analyzed for their genetic composition and potential to address ongoing climatic, disease and pest pressures; and a tour through the cold vault containing more than a million samples of seeds and animal germplasm. Each will be introduced by the scientists overseeing different aspects of the work. Afterward, all scientists involved will be available for a more formal Q and A (questions are also welcome during the tour). Total tour time: 4 hours.

Among those we will encounter on the tour include: Dr. Christina Walters, a plant physiologist and supervisor at the facility; Dr. Gayle Volk, an expert on seed preservation; Dr. Colin Khoury, an expert on genetic centers of origin; Dr. Harvey Blackburn, an animal geneticist; and Dr. Cliff Richards, a population geneticist.

This tour is free. There will be no buses for this tour. Please find your own way to the SEJ registration desk on the third floor of the Lory Student Center before 1:00 p.m. We will walk over to the Lab. Space is limited so register early!

Sign up here. (You won't find this tour at the regular online registration site; however you must be registered for the conference to sign up for this tour.)

Note: This is a highly secure government facility; registration includes required email and phone contact information. At the lab, security requires a photo ID and signature upon check in. No purses, backpacks or heavy coats are permitted in the building.

Advance registration is required for all Thursday tours. Attendance on each tour is strictly limited, so registering early is important. All Thursday tours will return to the Lory Student Center at about 5:00 p.m.

October 11, 2019
7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
The Mayor of Old Town, 632 S Mason St, Fort Collins, CO 80524


  • Hillary Rosner (Dinner Leader) Independent Journalist and Scholar-in-Residence, Center for Environmental Journalism, University of Colorado
  • Mark Schapiro (Dinner Leader) Author, "Seeds of Resistance," and Lecturer, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism


Attendees will be responsible for their own food and beverage purchases. 

Join an informal discussion on juggling freelance writing with part-time teaching to sustain a career in environmental journalism.

Restaurant Info: The Mayor of Old Town. A group of tables in a hip gastropub. Menu. Upscale pub grub, beer, wine and spirits. Estimated price per meal: $15-30.

Contact with questions: Mark Schapiro, 415-309-6365

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