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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].
September 30, 2013 at 7:17 AM
A commercial experiment
Much has been written, largely by opponents of I-522, arguing that there is, as of now, no measurable difference in the nutritional value of genetically modified foods compared to organic foods. [“GMO labeling campaigns raising near-record money,” page one, Sept. 5.]
This is a red herring. The real issue is whether or not the public shall have the right to decline to participate as guinea pigs in a huge (but profitable) experiment in human nutrition, the effects of which, like smoking (endorsed by doctors in the past), may be unknown for years.
I believe the public should have the right to choose whether or not to participate in any experiment, whether scientific or commercial.
Bill Appel, Seattle
September 26, 2013 at 4:31 PM
Contributors pursue economic self-interest
The article on the Initiative 522 campaign states that a total of eight donors have contributed $11.6 million to the NO on I- 522, with Monsanto throwing in $4.8 million and DuPont Pioneer $3.4 million. [“GMO labeling campaigns raising near-record money,” page one, Sept. 25.]
These two companies are heavily invested in the promotion of genetically modified products, and it is very likely that the other six contributors are pursuing their economic self-interest.
It brings to mind a comment that, as campaign contributions come more and more from wealthy self-interests, those with colossal fortunes are in effect the trustees for the public.
Is this what the voters of Washington want? The source of the contributions says it all.
Iona Stenhouse, Seattle
September 13, 2013 at 6:36 PM
I am definitely against the idea of putting something in my body from companies that won’t bother to tell me what was involved in the genetic alteration of their crops. [“Monsanto gives $4.6M to foes of GMO labeling,” NW Wednesday, Sept. 11.]
However, the whole point of Initiative 522 is not to ban genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in foods; it is to allow Washington state residents, such as myself, the ability to make an informed decision on what we want to eat.
The real issue of what is happening right now with these major companies donating money is that they do not like the idea of their products being exposed. They are willing to deprive their consumer base of a right to know what’s in their products.
While I understand most consumers who are in an uproar about this issue are organic consumers, these companies are more afraid of losing the markets of the people who are not aware of the genetic alterations involved with their products.
These people must know the reasons behind the initiative, and that these companies will do anything to convince them that the labeling law will cost more money and that their GMOs are safe. Conversely, companies are constantly changing the labeling of their products, and do we ever see a crazy price hike due to these changes? No.
In the end, it comes down to a matter of priorities. I think these major companies are trying to prevent any backlash or loss of sales due to their misguided choices of “creating” their product.
Most consumers are just trying to feed their families with the best ingredients that their money can buy.
In the end, which priority is the most ethical?
Micah Woolman, Arlington
August 19, 2013 at 4:32 PM
King County is taking action
With one in five students in King County overweight or obese, we agree with Marilyn McKenna’s concern that having healthy foods in schools is a critical component to addressing the childhood obesity epidemic. [“Guest column: Curbing childhood obesity starts with school lunches,” Opinion, Aug. 14.]
Six school districts with high obesity rates (Seattle, Highline, Tukwila, Renton, Kent and Auburn) are working together to change the school nutrition landscape, thanks to a federal grant focused on community health.
Seattle Public Schools facilitates the group working to update and strengthen school nutrition and physical activity wellness policies and implement new regulations for foods sold outside of the cafeteria. These districts are offering more fresh fruits and vegetables. More than 400 cafeteria staff from 12 school districts in the county have completed the culinary and nutrition training known as “discover. cook. nourish.”
The Harvest of the Month program teaches elementary students about Washington-grown foods on the menu. Kent, Renton and Auburn are working on a Farm-to-School program to purchase and promote locally-grown produce from farmers.
Parents and community members can help by getting involved in shaping school wellness policies.
Wendy Weyer, Seattle Public Schools, and Donna Oberg, Public Health Seattle & King County
August 19, 2013 at 7:08 AM
GMOs are poison
Reporter Melissa Allison missed the most important point regarding foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs): the health risks. [“On voters’ plates: genetically engineered crops,” page one, Aug. 11.]
Independent, long-term feeding trials on laboratory animals fed genetically engineered foods show serious health effects: tumors, low birth weight and shortened life spans.
GMOs are nothing more than slow-acting poisons masquerading as food.
Big, corporate agribusinesses would have these poisons crammed down our throats without our knowledge.
Vote “Yes” on Initiative 522 to label GMOs in food.
Patricia Michl, Lake Tapps
August 15, 2013 at 4:43 PM
We have a right to know
The recent article regarding the labeling of foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) failed to mention that genetically engineered crops require more of Monsanto’s herbicide, Roundup, because the weeds it is supposed to kill have become resistant to it and have turned into super weeds, requiring more of the chemicals that generate huge profits for Monsanto. [“On voters’ plates: genetically engineered crops,” page one, Aug. 11.]
It is beyond me why anyone would think that eating genetically modified foods doused with more chemicals than conventional foods is a healthy thing. The animal studies coming out are proving them to be anything but healthy. The monarch butterfly population has plummeted by 59 percent in the past year, because all that Roundup has killed most of the milkweed, which is their primary food source. If something isn’t done soon, they could be gone forever.
It’s dangerous that the U.S. government and Monsanto have unleashed GMOs into the marketplace without any conclusive long-term studies. They’ve turned the American people into guinea pigs.
Mother Nature exists for our benefit. Monsanto exists solely for its own best interests and profits, so having it control our food supply is scary.
Vote yes on Initiative 522! We have a right to know exactly what we’re eating, and to avoid GMOs if we chose.
Gayle Janzen, Seattle
August 15, 2013 at 7:06 AM
I can’t help thinking, as I read about whether we should label genetically modified foods, that the unacknowledged elephant in the room is trust. [“On voters’ plates: genetically engineered crops,” page one, Aug. 11.]
The scientific community seems frustrated that the public is unwilling to trust the experts about the safety of genetically modified foods. They don’t want to risk letting the public have a voice, or the choice to know the details and decide for themselves.
Ordinary people, the scientists seem to feel, don’t have enough knowledge or intelligence to make intelligent choices.
So we should trust them to do it for us.
Let’s look at the choices food science has made for us in the past:
World War II science gave us widespread hydrogenated fats. Hydrogenated fats have hardened the arteries of millions.
High-fructose corn syrup is still contributing to an increase the number of diabetics.
Cattle were fed feed made from dead animals to save money and grow beef cheaply. Popular theory holds that cows were infected with prions from diseased sheep, which led to transfer of a neurological disease of sheep to cattle — mad-cow disease. That disease was then possibly transferred to humans who ate the beef, leading to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
These consequences were unknown when the products were introduced to market. Science didn’t have all the answers then, and it doesn’t now.
Ask yourself: What evidence is there, based on past experience, that we can trust science and industry to consider public health above their own financial gain?
Susan Plahn, Seattle
August 13, 2013 at 7:05 PM
Glyphosate is harmful
The Seattle Times article on genetically engineered crops was informative, but it leaves out one of the crucial points of labeling genetically modified organisms (GMOs). [“On voters’ plates: genetically engineered crops,” page one, Aug. 11.]
One benefit to farmers in raising GMO crops is that it allows farmers to saturate their crops with weed-killing glyphosate (Roundup) and initially have higher yields.
Glyphosate has been shown in test after test to have harmful effects on the environment and on animals eating food from these crops. It is implicated in infertility development of animals, including cattle and other livestock.
Bee populations necessary for the pollination of crops are dangerously reduced, and soil fertility is low in the U.S. Glyphosate is unhealthy, and we would like to know which crops are raised using quantities of this and other chemicals.
Do you wonder what these companies stand to gain by pouring $44 million into a campaign against requiring labeling? Just labeling, mind you, not prohibiting the production or sale of GMOs.
Cindy Damm, Seattle
Labels should be educational, not political
Thanks for Melissa Allison’s article on labeling of foods containing transgenic crops.
The article unfortunately omitted mention of transgenic papaya, which saved the Hawaiian papaya industry from ring-spot virus, benefiting farmers as well as consumers, and only hinted at the benefits of transgenic rennet, transgenic insulin and golden rice.
Thirty years ago, I favored the labeling of transgenic crops, thinking that it would help educate the public about genetics, evolution, ecology and food history. Sadly, anti-GMO forces, including environmental organizations that ought to promote biological understanding, have instead waged a decades-long campaign of fear-mongering and disinformation about genetic engineering.
These groups solicit contributions by using obfuscating terms like “frankenfood” and unsupported claims of toxicity to alarm the public, rather than providing evidence-based assessment of risks and benefits. Their efforts have all the intellectual dishonesty of climate-change deniers.
Labeling food as “genetically engineered” is merely a political move to discourage thoughtful evaluation, but the inclusion of the name of the transgene and a national database with objective information about each product might actually be educational, and lead to informed choices.
Paul Talbert, Seattle
July 3, 2013 at 11:30 AM
A note to the NSA
If you’re considering celebrating an old fashioned Fourth of July, please feel free to help yourself to this “All-American Reclamation of Independence.”
“Unless we consent, it’s none of your bee’s wax!”
Maureen O’Brien O’Reilly, Seattle
Fireworks should be banned
We have already been subjected to the booms and concussion of fireworks as early as June 29. I say, ban all fireworks.
Change the Fourth of July back to what it was in the beginning. I am sick of the firework “shows.” They are not exciting or entertaining; instead, they are plain old tired and dumb. It is a waste of public or private funds in a time where everyone does not have a job. Cut it out!
Stop feeding the frenzied search for the bigger boom. Make the Fourth into a “help others” celebration, where people pitch in to help those less fortunate. Put the fireworks factories out of business.
Marietta Alexander, Everett
Declare independence from the meat industry
Whatever happened to the good-old days, when the worst things we had to fear on the Fourth of July were traffic jams and wayward fireworks?
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the threat of food poisoning by nasty E. coli and salmonella bugs increases during the summer months, likely because of improperly cooked hamburgers and hot dogs at millions of backyard barbecues. The USDA’s advice is to grill them longer and hotter. Of course, it doesn’t bother to mention that the high-temperature grilling that kills the bugs can form lots of cancer-causing compounds.
Luckily, a bunch of enterprising U.S. food manufacturers and processors have met this challenge head-on by developing a great variety of healthy, delicious and convenient veggie-burgers and soy-dogs.
These delicious plant-based foods don’t harbor nasty pathogens or cancer-causing compounds. They don’t even contain cholesterol, saturated fats, drugs, or pesticides. They are waiting for us in the frozen food section of our supermarkets.
This Fourth of July offers a great opportunity to declare our independence from the meat industry and to share wholesome veggie-burgers and soy-dogs with our family and friends.
Sal Sucher, Seattle
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