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I’m going to share some thoughts on GMOs or genetically modified organisms, as this relates to food. This may incite a riot… or at least a lot of negative feedback. I’m going to propose something a bit radical. The truth about GMO foods may not be black and white. GMO may be shades of gray, and I’ll tell you why I believe this may be true. Please don’t tune out… there are important questions we must tackle.

The Unfortunate Face of GMO

I believe that the GMO issue is not very well-understood by most people, but I don’t think it’s their fault. I blame the large agribusiness (“Big Ag”) interests for this problem. In my opinion, it’s very unfortunate that the face of GMO, in fact, the very first thing that Americans (and most other people around the world) think when they hear the phrase, “GMO” is Monsanto and Roundup Ready soy. While soy was the first, there are now many Roundup Ready crops, including corn, canola, alfalfa, cotton, and sorghum. So, why is it so unfortunate that GMO is synonymous with Big Ag in general, and Monsanto in particular? Because I honestly believe the entire purpose of these GMO products was to enrich Monsanto, period.

Contrary to Monsanto’s claims, Roundup Ready crops have not resulted in more food grown per area of land, and less application of herbicides overall. What they have resulted in is record profits for Monsanto and its shareholders. These crops result in two profit streams for the company. Farmers must buy Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup to use on their crops, and farmers pay more for the “special” GMO seeds. It’s a lose-lose for the farmer, and a win-win for Big Ag. Monsanto promotes Roundup ready foods in particular, and genetically engineered foods in general as the solution to feeding a growing world. Skeptics (myself included) don’t buy it – literally or figuratively.

Further profits come from the fact that the Roundup Ready crops use a technology referred to as “terminator technology.” This means seeds grown for a second generation are sterile, in essence, useless to the farmer. Farmers must purchase new seeds from Monsanto every single year if they want to continue to grow these crops. This goes against centuries, millennia even, of farming practice. Saving back seeds from a previous year’s harvest is a way that farmers the world over are ready for the next season. Even better, the farmer can pick which seeds to save back… maybe those from plants that were the biggest and yielded the most food, or plants that seemed most resistant to pests. Over time, this resulted in genetically varied and strong plants, and cost the farmer nothing, as he or she did not have to buy seeds every year.


Big (Ag) Lies

Also troubling is that the American public was told Roundup Ready crops would yield more food, and result in less total application of herbicides on crops across the United States. Neither of these things turned out to be true. In 2002, an organization called the Soil Association published a comprehensive, well-researched report, called Seeds of Doubt, on the many impacts of GMO crops. According to the findings detailed in this 68 page report:

  • Many claimed benefits of Roundup Ready crops have not been seen in practice
  • The profitability (to the farmer) of growing Roundup Ready soy is less than non-GM crops, due to the extra cost of GM seed and because lower market prices are paid for GM crops
  • The claims of increased yields have not been realized, and Roundup Ready soy appears to yield 6–11 percent less food than non-GM varieties.
  • GM herbicide tolerant crops have made farmers more reliant on herbicides, new weed problems have emerged, and farmers are applying herbicides several times, contrary to the claim that only one application would be needed.
  • Rogue GMO oilseed rape plants (‘volunteers’) have become a widespread problem in Canada, with contamination from these GMO plants causing the loss of nearly the entire organic oilseed rape sector in the province of Saskatchewan; organic farmers are struggling economically and many can no longer sell their product as organic due to GMO contamination.
  • Within a few years of the introduction of GMO crops in North America, the majority of the $300 million annual US maize exports to the EU and the $300 million annual Canadian rape (canola) exports to the EU had disappeared, and the US share of the world soy market had decreased. Why is this a problem? Because…
  • US farm subsidies were meant to have fallen over this time frame. Instead they rose dramatically, paralleling the growth in the area of GMO crops. The lost export trade as a result of GMO crops may have contributed to a fall in farm prices and hence a need for increased government subsidies, estimated at an extra $3–$5 billion annually
  • In total, it is estimated that GMO crops may have cost the US economy at least $12 billion net from 1999 to 2001.
  • Accusations of farmers infringing on Monsanto company patent rights has contributed to severe legal difficulties for farmers: One non-GMO farmer whose crop was contaminated by GMOs was sued by Monsanto for $400,000.

This report was published over a decade ago, and this situation has continued to play out, in exactly this direction of diminishing returns, and more costs to farmer and society, since that time.​


Herbicide Use Going Up

As for herbicide application, it has increased year over year at a significant rate since the introduction of GMO crops. According to a 2012 study published in Environmental Sciences Europe, “Contrary to often-repeated claims that today’s genetically-engineered crops have, and are reducing pesticide use, the spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds in herbicide-resistant weed management systems has brought about substantial increases in the number and volume of herbicides applied.” The researchers also concluded, “If new genetically engineered forms of corn and soybeans tolerant of 2,4-D are approved, the volume of 2,4-D sprayed could drive herbicide usage upward by another approximate 50%.”

Guess what happened in October 2014? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)approved a Dow Chemical herbicide blend of 2,4-D and glyphosate, intended for use on Dow’s patented 2,4-D resistant GMO corn and soybeans. For some background the Dow-produced 2,4-D was a component of “Agent Orange,” the toxic defoliant used in Vietnam, and is the seventh largest source of dioxins in the United States.


Recent Designation: Roundup is Probable Carcinogen

On March 20, 2105, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) – a research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), published a research paper which recommended that glyphosate (Roundup) be classified as a probable carcinogen. A carcinogen is anything that causes cancer. Remember, glyphosphate is the most widely produced herbicide, by volume, on the planet.


No Wonder People Hate GMO

I hope by now you are convinced that I am by no means a fan of GMO crops. In fact, I am adamantly opposed to how they are being used in North America, and I personally avoid GMO foods as much as possible. After reading these facts I hope you also believe GMO crops are nothing but bad news. And this is the baseline from which most people have formed their opinions about GMO. Rightly, they have concluded these products are not good, and are simply one more way for Big Ag to make money, foul the environment, disregard the farmer, and completely ignore the very serious health and environmental consequences of application of these highly toxic chemicals.

The sad thing about all of this is that the true potential of GMO to actually help people has never been realized, because Monsanto, other Big Ag and chemical companies all got there first.

Based on this very awful track record, I certainly don’t have a positive association in my mind with GMO food. Beyond these egregious and obvious harms from GMO as it is used in North America, a lot of questions need to be answered about the safety of the practice of inserting genes – safety to humans and for the environment, including large ecological systems, watersheds, soil resources, and more.

We know the chemicals used with these seeds are a major issue. We know that mono-cropping – growing large swaths of one or two varieties of food across the country – is bad for the environment, depletes soil, and makes it more likely that a crop destroying disease develops. We know losing all of the diversity in our food crops promotes a very poor diet among Americans… Keep in mind that commodity crops are grown in lieu of healthy foods, and these crops are widely used to produce junk food. And we need more information on whether the food itself, with its inserted genes (assuming it isn’t contaminated with chemicals) is safe, for people and for the planet.


The gray areas: potential upsides of GMO

GMO plants may actually help people.  Plants that aren’t designed solely to drive profits, but rather plants that could address serious human global health problems is a positive.  Consider Golden Rice. This product was developed, using GMO techniques, to supplement beta-carotene into the diets of people living in the developing world. Why the focus on beta-carotene?

Beta-carotene can be converted into vitamin A in the body, and vitamin A deficiency is at crisis proportions in the developing world. Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of blindness in children in the the developing world, and contributes significantly to their inability to mount an immune response, a condition termed “anergy.” This means Vitamin A deficiency causes a lot of infant and childhood death indirectly, by making kids much more likely to die of an infectious disease. Even vaccination will not elicit an immune response in someone with severe vitamin A deficiency.

Per the World Health Organization, 122 countries have vitamin A deficiency of public health significance in preschool-age children. And once a child is diagnosed with night blindness, progression to death is not far behind if the deficiency isn’t corrected. By numbers, night blindness is estimated to affect 5.2 million preschool-age children and 9.8 million pregnant women. Low serum retinol (a form of vitamin A measured in the blood) affects an estimated 190 million preschool-age children and 19.1 million pregnant women globally.

This is a completely preventable problem, if we could just get vitamin A (or its precursor beta-carotene) into the diet. Rice was chosen as a possible food for doing this, because it’s a staple food in so much of the world. Golden Rice was not developed by a corporation, but by nutrition researchers in Switzerland and Germany.

Per information provided by the Golden Rice Humanitarian Board,  “The inventors of Golden Rice were Ingo Potrykus, Professor emeritus of the Institute for Plant Sciences of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH, Zurich), and Professor Peter Beyer, of the Centre for Applied Biosciences, University of Freiburg, Germany (Ye et al 2002). The search for a Golden Rice started off as a Rockefeller Foundation initiative in 1982. After years of research by various research groups, a meeting of experts was convened in New York in 1992. There, Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer met for the first time, and subsequently decided to embark on the project that would lead to the development of Golden Rice in 1999. Their great contribution consisted in showing that a very complex biosynthetic pathway could be tweaked to enhance the health-promoting virtues of a crop. The breakthrough insight was that most of the pathway was already present in the rice grain and it only needed two genes to reset the whole pathway.”


Baby Out with the Bathwater

Sadly, it is unlikely that Golden Rice will ever be put to its intended use. Many health and nutrition experts hold this up as example that GMO is useless. For example, Marion Nestle, who I hold in high regard for her intelligence and sensible approach to nutrition, has noted, “Golden Rice is the most prominent example of the benefits of agricultural biotechnology but ten years later its promise was still unfulfilled. Field trials began in 2008 and the rice might be in production by 2011 [Oops. It’s still not in production].”

I think this is unfortunate, because it proverbially, “throws the baby out with the bathwater.” Basically, because Golden Rice has never made it to market, we should just stop exploring the biotechnology avenue altogether. Another issue raised by those who cite Golden Rice as an abject failure is that it does not address the huge, intractable, underlying issues contributing to malnutrition… lack of empowerment of women, the legacy of colonialism, lack of access to indigenous seeds and loss of the knowledge on how to grow them, government corruption, war, and so forth. The list of contributors to malnutrition is long, and permanent solutions are tough to implement.


My Big Questions:

  1. Why wouldn’t we use something like Golden Rice (assuming it is proven safe) as a stop gap? People the world over are going blind and dying due to vitamin A deficiency.  The permanent solutions take time.
  2. Why wouldn’t we use something available now, to stop the carnage of malnutrition, even if it isn’t the end game, even if it doesn’t solve every social ill, and even if it only helps a portion of those affected by vitamin A deficiency?
  3. Why wouldn’t we use something like Golden Rice to help even a few? We may say, well, it can’t be rolled out widely enough to help all of those affected, so why bother? But to the few who may be saved from blindness or death, it matters a whole lot.

What I really believe we need to do is to get mad. We need to get really angry and ask our regulators and legislators why they would approve something like GMO Round up Ready soy, while not helping to bring a GMO crop that actually may help people, to market.

One reason? Our entire political system is propped up on money, lobbying, and the fact that the person with the most money has the loudest voice. The Citizens United supreme court decision ensures that “corporations and unions have a green light to spend unlimited sums on ads and other political tools, calling for the election or defeat of individual candidates.”

But this is a story for another day… Or maybe it is a story for today, as this NY Times article points out: A significant number of Americans, of all political stripes, want the political funding system overhauled.


Targeting the Wrong GMO

So, while “Big Ag” busily courts the political decision makers to bring useless GMO products to market – products which time and again have been shown to enrich corporations at the expense of human and environmental health – anti-GMO activists have stymied the ability to bring a potentially useful GMO food (Golden Rice) to market. In fact, a recent report noted that anti-GMO activists have destroyed Golden Rice test crops and lied about who they were, and why they were destroying the crops.

Again, don’t get me wrong, I think GMO needs a lot more study and careful consideration. Frankly, I would be pretty happy if the USDA had a complete turnaround, and revoked approval of Round Up Ready soy!  That is the last place where GMO is going to help, other than perhaps, to help enrich a few executives and shareholders associated with big agribusiness and multinational corporations.


Beyond Golden Rice

Beyond golden rice, there are many places where GMO is being studied, not by industry, but by people who have made it their life’s work to alleviate suffering due to food insecurity around the world. I find it heartening that one researcher has used conventional plant breeding techniques to create “orange corn.” Again, the goal is to get more pro-vitamin A carotenes into the diets of people who are suffering the dire consequences of vitamin A deficiency. Perhaps this approach, because it is more politically palatable, will finally bring a nutrient-enriched staple crop to places that desperately need immediate access to vitamin A-rich foods… Again, think of this as a stop gap, until we can fully address the big questions, which we most certainly need to do.

But what about dealing with climate change? Many environmental and organic food activists note that conventional breeding techniques can be used to create more drought tolerant plants. However, there are some issues that simply cannot be tackled with these methods. Consider rising seas and salt water incursion into farm land. This process – soils becoming more saline (salty) due to rising sea levels – happens over a period of months, not years. It is unlikely that in one or two generations of conventional breeding, a plant can be adapted fast enough to grow well in these high-salt soil conditions.

As farmers in Bangladesh can attest, if there is sea water incursion, even after the brackish (sea and ground water mixtures) water recedes, nothing conventional will grow there. Conventional seeds just don’t do well with all that salt. And this problem is huge. Per the Rockefeller Foundation’s Catalysts for Change, Paths Out of Poverty website, “Bangladesh has a coastal area of 2.5 million hectares. Out of this, approximately 1 million hectares of land have already been affected by different levels of salinity.”

It’s also worth noting that sharing this same page on the potential benefits of using genetic modification techniques to address the “salty soils” problem, is a link to an article, “Organic Rice Farming in Thailand as a Method to Escape Debt Entrapment.” The Rockefeller Foundation is no shill for GMO, and recognizes the clear need for organic farming methods to improve lives and livelihoods around the globe.


What’s next?

I suppose it’s “pie in the sky” and naive to believe humanity could actually use biotech for good in agriculture, only where it’s needed, while also ensuring local seed varieties are preserved, empowerment of women is fostered, better stewardship of the land is prioritized, local initiatives to fix problems rule the day, anti-corruption initiatives are implemented, and more. That is my wish; unfortunately, I feel very alone in this.

I understand many people remain staunchly anti-GMO in all circumstances because this approach never seems to work out for anyone’s benefit, except large corporations. Sadly, GMO is now tainted with this reputation, so there is no longer the ability to have thoughtful discussions about whether and how this approach could possibly be used to help people.

Without those thoughtful discussions we may never know whether the risks of even “good” GMO foods, such as Golden Rice or saline tolerant rice, outweigh the “bad.” If we could have thoughtful discussions, we may discover that indeed, the anti-GMO position is the way to go; perhaps we should never go the GMO route. But we will probably never know.

We will never be able to conceive that perhaps good people, with the goal of alleviating suffering immediately, are working on these potential applications of GMO to help people the world over. In our media-saturated culture, nuance is lost, and we are forced to “pick a side.”

If you have to pick a side, I suggest that side be to stop the current trend in GMO development in the United States. There is nothing to be gained from creating more crops requiring more pesticides.


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Susan started Savor Health after losing a close friend to a brain tumor and, through that experience, becoming aware of the significant unmet nutritional needs of people with cancer.  Struck by the fact that her friend was told “nutrition doesn’t matter” and “eat whatever you want,” Susan read the evidence-based literature on the subject, interviewed oncologists, oncology nurses and oncology dietitians, as well as patients and caregivers, and found that, in fact, nutrition does matter in oncology. Armed with solid scientific evidence supporting the clinical and quality of life benefits of proper nutrition, Susan left Wall Street and created Savor Health, an AI-based provider of personalized and clinically appropriate nutrition solutions for cancer patients, their caregivers and health enterprises. Susan brings to Savor Health over 25 years of industry experience in healthcare and business as well as expertise in strategy, finance and management.

Susan is an outspoken and tireless advocate for cancer patients receiving proper nutrition and nutrition support before, during and after treatment. She strongly believes that the U. S. healthcare system requires new innovation to transform it into a more holistic and integrated system of care whereby multiple disciplines coordinate care together for the benefit of the whole patient. As part of this, her goal is for nutrition to be an integral component of such an integrated cancer care delivery system.  Susan’s commitment to the field of oncology extends beyond Savor Health to volunteer work at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in pediatrics and as a runner for Fred’s Team to raise money for research at Memorial Sloan Kettering. Susan participated in the Cancer Moonshot in June of 2016 where she was a breakout session group “igniter” tasked with starting and leading discussion. Susan’s first book, the Meals to Heal Cancer Cookbook, was published in March 2016.

In addition to her role as CEO of Savor Health, Susan speaks nationally about the importance of ensuring proper nutrition in the cancer patient and on topics including leadership and startups. She has been a speaker at the Harvard Medical School’s Career Advancement and Leadership Skills for Women in Healthcare, ESMO World Congress on GI Cancer, BioPharm America, AARP Live @50+, Lake Nona Impact Forum, and IIR ePharma Summit.

Prior to starting Savor Health, Susan had a successful career on Wall Street as a healthcare services investment banker working at prestigious firms including Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, Wasserstein Perella and Robertson Stephens. Susan earned a B.A. from Duke University and M.B.A. from the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business.

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Marissa Buchan is a registered dietitian, with advanced practice certifications in Oncology Nutrition (CSO) and Clinical Research (CCRP). She received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Duke University, and Master’s of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. Marissa worked for 10 years at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in both the clinical research and nutrition departments.  In addition to counseling patients before, during, and after cancer therapy, she spearheaded nutrition-research efforts for the bone marrow transplant service. She has co-authored over 20 articles and has a particular interest in the role of nutrition on the intestinal microbiota and its impact on patient outcomes. When Marissa’s not wearing her lab coat, she’s in her apron whipping up healthy and delicious recipes that you can find on her blog, Get Off Your Tush and Cook.

Marissa is Chief Operating Officer of Savor Health where she leads operations working with the technology, clinical, and business development teams and management. Prior to assuming the role of COO in March 2020, Marissa was Vice President, Clinical Research and Operations at Savor Health where she worked closely with Savor Health’s Chief Medical Advisor, Scientific Advisory Board, and Clinical Operations Team to evaluate, design and conduct clinical research.  She also counsels patients on oncology nutrition issues and contributes to the Company website’s clinical content.

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Dr. DeFrance has a unique background including clinical interventional cardiologist, chief medical officer, educator, outcomes researcher and entrepreneur. He has expertise in Lifestyle medicine in which he was board certified in 2020 and is highly interested in the prevention and reversal of chronic disease. Dr. DeFrance also has expertise in appropriate utilization of technology in medicine, healthcare economics, value-based metrics, and educational design and delivery. He worked as Chief Medical Officer for HealthHelp, one of the largest specialty benefit managers in the US, and led large teams of healthcare professionals in writing evidence based appropriate care guidelines and rule sets which improve the quality and safety of medicine for over 20 million people in the US while also creating sustained savings in healthcare. He has also designed clinical decision support systems that are currently in use helping to improve patient care.

In 2018 Dr. DeFrance founded MedMentor Education, a company that provides state of the art CME content using the latest in eLearning science and online delivery platforms. Dr. DeFrance is also the founder and President of Digimedica, a consulting and educational design and delivery company for healthcare professionals, hospitals, and universities. He is passionate about creating systems to optimize knowledge transfer and has won numerous awards for teaching excellence during his career. He is an expert in cardiovascular CT imaging and has taught more than 3,000 physicians how to perform and interpret cardiac CT nationally and internationally and has lectured extensively on this subject.

Dr. DeFrance has a stellar reputation in the medical field and continues work to improve the quality and safety of patient care in the US.

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Alyson is a registered nurse and is certified in oncology nursing (OCN) through the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS). She also has her certification as an ONS Biotherapy and Chemotherapy Provider. Alyson studied nursing at Thomas Jefferson University where she obtained her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN). Since starting her nursing career in 2004, Alyson has had a strong dedication and commitment to oncology patients. She has worked inpatient specializing in Bone Marrow and Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplantation. Alyson currently works in outpatient oncology at the North Shore-LIJ Monter Cancer Center. Alyson is part of the clinical team at Savor Health where she counsels patients on oncology and oncology nutrition issues and contributes to website and other Savor Health content.

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Chelsey is a Registered Dietitian and Board Certified Specialist in Oncology nutrition (CSO). She completed her Dietetic Internship at Northwell Health, received her BS in Dietetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her MS in Nutrition at Stony Brook University’s School of Medicine. Chelsey works as an outpatient dietitian at Mount Sinai covering all of the downtown cancer services at Mount Sinai Beth Israel and Philips Ambulatory Care Center. Chelsey works with patients and families before, during and after treatment to optimize their nutrition through dietary counseling and support. Chelsey has experience counseling clients with a variety of diagnoses including breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, head & neck cancer, and more. Chelsey also enjoys sharing nutrition knowledge with her peers by running a monthly Employee Wellness program that showcases healthy topics, recipes and food demos.

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Michelle is a Registered Dietitian specializing in oncology. She works as a clinical dietitian at an ambulatory cancer center in New York City and is a consultant for Savor Health. She is passionate about educating oncology patients on the importance of nutrition during their fight against cancer and helping them to optimize their nutrition through all phases of treatment. Michelle received her Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University.

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Denise Sievering is a Registered Dietitian who is board certified in Oncology Nutrition as well as Nutrition Support. A fluent Spanish speaker, Denise joined the Savor Health team to support Spanish speaking cancer patients and to continue to expand the Platform’s nutritional strategies and recommendations in Spanish. Denise holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Rutgers University, and completed her internship at New York Presbyterian Hospital (NYP). Denise started her career as a registered dietitian at NYP-Columbia University Medical Center, primarily covering inpatient Oncology units. Denise also holds a Master of Arts degree in Mental Health Counseling from New York University, and incorporates her advanced training in motivational interviewing and empathic listening in her patient encounters, particularly those whose lives have been forever changed by a cancer diagnosis. A New Jersey native, Denise now resides in sunny San Diego, CA where she works as a part-time outpatient Oncology dietitian at Scripps Health-MD Anderson Cancer Center, and also works as an inpatient dietitian at Kaiser Permanente. In her spare time, Denise can be found at a mom-and-pop taco shop, one of the many local craft breweries, and exploring her new city of San Diego with her husband and her rescue pup, Ripley.

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Karen is a Registered Dietitian, Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition and registered in New York as a Certified Dietitian Nutritionist. Fluent in Spanish, Karen joined the Savor Health team to support Spanish speaking cancer patients and to continue to expand the Platform’s nutritional strategies and recommendations in Spanish. Karen received her Bachelor of Science degree from Ithaca College and her Master of Science degree from Hunter College. She works as an outpatient oncology dietitian in New York. Karen often works with local community centers to host nutrition programs for cancer survivors and their families, leading classes on how to live healthier lifestyles throughout their continuum of care. The American Institute of Cancer Research selected to showcase one of her many programs at their conference in 2019. Karen has written for and lent commentary to various publications and truly enjoys teaching people how to eat better. She loves to cook and strongly feels that healthy food doesn’t have to taste bad.

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Allie is a Registered Dietitian and a Certified Specialist in Oncology (CSO). She joins Savor in 2023, bringing years of experience from the John Theurer Cancer Center in New Jersey, where she worked with patients with a variety of cancers. Her goal is to help people feel their best, both mentally and physically, when physical health challenges arise. She believes in the power of nutrition ever since the impact it made on her athletic career as a volleyball player during college. Allie graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree from University of Maryland-Baltimore County and has her Master’s degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Wisconsin Stout. She enjoys travelling, enjoying different cuisines, cooking, and hiking and other outdoor activities with her family and dog.

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Julia Penberg is a seasoned healthcare professional with more than 30 years of experience focusing on maximizing operational excellence, leading clinical program development and building strong cross-functional teams. Her previous roles include overseeing the performance of clinical managers and nurse practitioners across multiple markets within United Healthcare-Optum’s Medicare Advantage and dual-eligible special needs populations, payer outreach and program development at Mayo Clinic, ground level specialty hospital development and direct patient care as a family and dermatology nurse practitioner. Julia volunteered as an operating room nurse and nurse practitioner on several mission trips to Romania and was a support group leader for the Kansas City chapter of the International Myeloma Foundation. Her motivation throughout her career has been with wellness promotion, disease risk modification and ensuring the best patient experience across the health continuum. Ms. Penberg received an MBA from the University of Dallas; a MS in Nursing from the University of Kansas and a BS in Nursing from the University of Texas-Austin. She is board certified as a Family Nurse Practitioner.

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Rachel is a Registered Dietitian and Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition (“CSO”). She joined NYP-Columbia as the outpatient oncology dietitian in 2020 after working at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center for two years. Rachel completed her dietetic internship through Keene State College in 2017. She is pursuing an MS in Integrative Nutrition at Stony Brook University and has a BS in Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise from Virginia Tech. Rachel provides nutrition counseling to all types of oncology patients and helps them understand the mental and physical benefits of nutrition as an ally in their fight against cancer. In her free time she enjoys slow meals with family and friends, Pilates, and tending to her fire escape garden.

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Allie Werner is a Registered Dietitian at Fresenius Kidney Care where she provides medical nutrition therapy diet counseling to patients on Dialysis. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in nutrition from Indiana University and completed her Master’s Degree and dietetic internship at Loyola University Chicago. In her free time she enjoys spending time with friends and family, checking out the amazing food scene in downtown Chicago, and exercising on her Peloton bike.

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Immersed in the tech world for a decade, I've coded, led teams, and honed my skills in architecture and design. As a tech enthusiast, I've seamlessly woven through full-stack projects, fusing my love for code with the art of leadership.

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Mohit is a full-stack developer with expertise in Python and JavaScript, known for his efficient coding and ability to deliver scalable software solutions. His technical contributions are highlighted on GitHub and Stack Overflow, demonstrating his commitment to the tech community and problem-solving skills. With a solid educational foundation and a diverse project portfolio, Mohit excels at navigating complex challenges and is well-equipped to contribute to dynamic software projects.

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Rayna McCann is a Registered Dietitian and Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition. She is a Registered Yoga Teacher and yoga4cancer certified. She received her BS in Nutrition at Penn State University and her MS from Stony Brook University. For work, Rayna wears many hats in the world of nutrition and worked for years in clinical settings focusing on oncology nutrition. She is also an Adjunct Professor and passionate about inspiring the future of dietitians. Throughout her career, she has received awards recognizing her dedication to patient safety and her contributions to improving malnutrition awareness. In 2022, Rayna was proud to accept the ‘Dietitian of the Year’ award through the Long Island Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Rayna has co-authored abstracts for poster presentations within the American Institute for Cancer Research conference, as well as, the Nutrition and Dietetics Food and Nutrition Conference Expo and subsequent publication. She has enjoyed authoring articles, including an article for The Cure magazine regarding Multiple Myeloma and nutrition. When Rayna is not participating in nutrition related activities, she is dedicated to dog rescue.

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