November 27, 2013 at 7:05 AM
Restrict the use of unnecessary drugs
Guest columnists David Ramenofsky and Paul Pottinger gave a good accounting of the dangers of antibiotics in livestock and the food chain [“Label meat and dairy from livestock treated with antibiotics,” Opinion, Nov. 25].
We should also be reminded that the deadly bacteria that grows from these animals spread well beyond the feedlot and slaughterhouse.
On top of the food poisoning incidents tied to wholesale and retail meats are the cross-contaminated vegetables and fruit. For instance, cantaloupes, spinach and bean sprouts have been contaminated from a water table infected from nearby livestock operations.
November 18, 2013 at 7:01 PM
Split the food stamps and the farm program
I agree with Froma Harrop, “let’s split the food stamps and the farm program” [“The last farm bill? Opinion, Nov. 17].
November 9, 2013 at 8:04 AM
Debate over GMOs involves many untruths by large corporations
Your editorial repeated a factually untrue statement from Scientific American that “the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has tested all the GMOs on the market” to determine safety [“Voters don’t buy GMO labels,” Opinion, Nov. 6].
It’s true, the FDA conducts no scientific tests on any GMOs. The FDA only receives summary information from the company, “consults” with the company if there is indication of a problem (which there never is — the industry only submits dossiers that appear clean) and then rubberstamps the “application.”
As the FDA website puts it, “FDA considers a consultation to be complete only when its team of scientists are satisfied with the developers’ safety assessment and have no further questions regarding safety or regulatory issues.” In other words, the agency itself does no actual assessment.
Unfortunately, the debate over GMOs involves many instances of the repetition of untruths by organizations which should do better fact-checking.
Phil Bereano, Professor Emeritus, Seattle
November 8, 2013 at 7:34 PM
Farm bill is crucial to direct our agriculture and nutrition policy for hungry Americans
Right now Congress is debating a farm bill that will direct our agriculture and nutrition policy for the next several years ["Congress must compromise on farm bill," Online, Oct. 29]. The House and Senate passed two very different bills. SNAP is being cut: Some want to gut the program, but others want to protect it.
On Nov. 1, every food-stamp recipient (low-income Americans) saw his or her benefits reduced. It has become a political issue.
As somebody who believes that our government should not actively try to increase hunger in America, I’d like to see our members of Congress work to pass a farm bill that protects anti-hunger programs and finds a better way to balance the budget. Can’t we find a better way to put our fiscal house in order?
Here is my take: People in general have certain basic needs and necessities like food, clothing and shelter. When these are not met, people tend to voice their concerns and get really vociferous about it. By cutting the SNAP program, are the legislators checking to see if incomes rise for common Americans so they don’t have to apply for SNAP? If the answer is yes, then they should cut it. Otherwise, they need to keep it.
Nalina Nagarajan, Kirkland
November 5, 2013 at 4:25 PM
Initiative 522 is a waste of taxpayers’ dollars ["Food-label vote may have D.C. impact,” page one, Oct. 30].
Don’t get me wrong, I am completely pro-organic and pro local food, but labeling which food is genetically modified is not going to change anything — other than the amount of money in our pockets.
People who are already interested in organic and local food are already educated on what they are buying and eating. They are the people who shop at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and co-ops. They are the people who support fair trade and spend their Saturdays at the farmers’ market. They can tell whether their food is genetically modified because they care enough to look before purchasing.
Initiative 522 wouldn’t benefit those people who already know, and it certainly won’t benefit the people who don’t care now. People who aren’t already supporting organic and local food companies aren’t going to change their way of life just because their food is now labeled in big letters: GMO. It’s common knowledge that if it doesn’t say organic, it contains GMOs.
Hailey Young, Bellingham
November 5, 2013 at 6:33 AM
Cost of labeling is not the real issue
Editor, The Times:
The opponents of I-522 would have us believe that it would require separate, costly labeling specific to GMO products sold in Washington state [“Growing debate over genetically engineered food,” page one, Oct. 29]. The simple solution is to follow the example set in California for products containing carcinogenic material.
That is, one label that is used throughout the country stating that a particular product contains material that California has found to be carcinogenic. Hence, one food label that states Washington requires GMO identification.
Of course, we all know that is exactly what the opponents are afraid of. Then again, separate labeling for Washington should not increase expenses. In many cases, the same processor cans food for different companies, each requiring their own label. The same goes for meat, fish, bread, etc. That scenario doesn’t raise the cost of the finished products for anyone.
James R. Willis, Tacoma
November 4, 2013 at 4:27 PM
Accept the scientific facts
The I-522 debate is a religion versus science debate, especially when likened to kosher labeling [“Food-label vote may have D.C. impact,” page one, Oct. 30].
Paranoia over GMOs illustrates the growing scientific illiteracy in society. GMO organisms are made through a process. The benefits are numerous, but each product needs to be evaluated on its own merit, not as a group. The evaluation of the usefulness and safety of each product is expensive (which favors multinational corporations).
Marketers have long discovered that we tend to make the least risky choice (not necessarily the best), and the tactic of sowing the seeds of doubt is powerful. What labeling will do is “brand” an element of doubt in consumers’ minds, despite the plethora of science supporting the usefulness and safety of a particular GMO product.
This will limit development and availability of this important advance in food technology and the myriad current and future benefits. So, the initiative, heralded as a “right to know” issue, is actually an edict on a belief in the evils of the process versus the scientific method’s ability to evaluate safety and efficacy. If society continues to reject science, we are on a slippery slope of being at the whims of the best marketers and not the best objective information.
Hugh Mitchell, Kirkland
This initiative is all about choice
We haven’t had enough time to evaluate GMO foods. Remember Thalidomide, the morning sickness pill? It was deemed safe by the researchers: They “couldn’t find a dose large enough to kill a rat.” Yet after it had been in use for a number of years, babies began showing up in obstetrics with deformed and missing limbs.
Thousands of children worldwide were condemned to a handicapped life because researchers weren’t thorough enough in their research.
Give the consumer a choice. Those who wish to buy GMO foods can do so. This initiative is all about choice. Don’t force all of us to be in the dark about what is in the food we consume.
Charles Hodson, Federal Way
November 4, 2013 at 6:35 AM
Don’t let the greed of companies dictate what you eat
In response to the letter by Ryland Bydalek [“I-522: draw conclusions from evidence,” Opinion, Oct. 30], this controversy over GMOs is still in its infancy.
Present knowledge is still too incomplete to make a definitive decision about the true effects of it on the human system. I’m no biologist, but the past should give anyone pause.
A couple of things I remember: DDT, sold for many years as an insecticide all over the world; “Silent Spring” by Rachael Carson; Agent Orange in the Vietnam War; the use of fire retardants in children’s clothing; etc.
Pay particular attention that in the roughly five years of heavy use of Roundup Ready crops, the weeds are becoming immune to it and heavier doses are needed. I wonder if Bydalek’s studies of microbiology have given him any indication of how Roundup is initiating changes in the DNA structure of weeds; or will affect humans given another decade.
The only reason for the crop DNA to be modified is to resist Roundup. There is a strong case to be made for long-term studies in medicine to ensure we’re not doing severe harm to our children’s children. What’s the hurry? It’s only the greed of the companies making this stuff.
For the time being — in my case, the rest of my life — let’s at least label it so you enthusiasts can gobble food all you want. Make sure you’re getting an adequate dose, and the rest of us will make up our own minds.
Randall Schwab, Langley
November 1, 2013 at 7:00 PM
Ballard High School students share their thougths
Various points of I-522 have been highly debated [“Growing debate over genetically engineered food,” page one, Oct. 29].
Personally, I think if the initiative passed, the Washington state consumer wouldn’t care and would buy the food product anyway. This is the same reason why people might still buy fast food after being shown the amount of calories on the label.
The initiative was written properly because the side opposing the measure argues that some “GMO meat” is not going to be labeled. This is because the food that cattle or other animals eat is genetically modified, but the actual meat is not genetically modified. So that is why “GMO meat” will not be labeled.
Washington farmers should have no reason to be against this bill. The average consumer wants what they want and doesn’t care if food is GMO or not.
Nicholas Yand, Ballard
Right to know won’t affect food prices
Before I heard about I-522, I didn’t know much about GMOs in general. But with the help of my science teacher, I learned that the pro I-522 groups mainly claim that the consumers have the right to know what they’re eating.
Anti I-522 groups claim that passing the initiative would increase food cost for Washington families.
In my class activity, I played the role of the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA’s role is to regulate food and make sure it is safe for the public. It’s hard for the FDA to choose a side because neither side provides enough information to support its claim.
I personally support I-522 because I think people have the right to know what’s in their food and I don’t think it would affect food prices. While a labeling system is already used, it is not hard to label GMO products at the same time.
Tashi Tsering, Seattle
October 31, 2013 at 7:30 AM
There is a lot we don’t know about the risks of GMOs
Ryland Bydalek’s letter arguing that there is no scientific basis for supporting I-522 fails to acknowledge that scientists do not uniformly agree regarding the safety of GMOs [“I-522: Draw conclusions from evidence,” Opinion, Oct. 30].
The Union of Concerned Scientists states: “While the risks of genetic engineering have sometimes been exaggerated or misrepresented, GE crops do have the potential to cause a variety of health problems and environmental impacts.”
The organization cites one already significant environmental impact: “Overuse of herbicide-tolerant GE crops has spurred an increase in herbicide use and an epidemic of herbicide-resistant ‘superweeds,’ which will lead to even more herbicide use.” Finally, the UCS concludes that “there is a lot that we don’t know about the risks of GE.”
To me, this is a valid reason to be suspicious of the more than $5 million Monsanto has poured into the anti I-522 campaign, and to support the concept that consumers have a right to information about the way their food is grown.
Selden Prentice, Seattle
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