We have the right to know what we are eating

Editor of the Reformer:

As the General Manager of a locally owned natural foods co-operative with 1,204 members in a village of 2,600 residents, I want to express my support of the GMO labeling bill that is currently under consideration in the Vermont Senate. (Editor’s note: The bill was passed on Tuesday, 26-2.)

Increasingly, our members are asking for honest and clearly labeled products. They read labels and they take their food seriously. Not only do they want to know the ingredients of their foods but they also want to know the story behind that food. They want to know which foods are locally sourced, which products are gluten-free, which are certified organic, and which are fairly traded.

When our customers ask about which products contain genetically modified ingredients, I cannot answer them. I can be certain that certified organic and Non-GMO verified products do not contain GMOs, but what about the hundreds of other products? No one knows for certain, and we have the right to know. This is not about going toe to toe with big corporations to argue whether or not GMO’s are safe, this is about having access to information about what is in the food we feed our families.

I want to provide my member-owners and customers with the best shopping experience and customer service that I can, but without proper labeling of GMOs I cannot adequately do my job and honestly address their needs and concerns.

I encourage everyone to contact their legislators and support them passing a strong GMO labeling bill that does not rely on the action (or inaction) of other states. We all have the right to know what we are eating. So let’s lead the country in passing H.112.

Robyn O’Brien,

general manager,

Putney Food Co-op,

Putney, April 10

Support for solar lights
at Putney park & ride

Editor of the Reformer:

An open letter to Wayne L. Davis, project supervisor of the Putney Park and Ride:

We are writing in support of the solar-powered motion-activated lights for the soon to be built Putney park and ride. We do not support the VTrans proposal to have grid-tied lights that are nearly three times the wattage of our current streetlights illuminating the park and ride facility all night long.

We strongly support the proposal offered by Daniel Hoviss which would benefit Putney’s natural environment both by conserving energy used to operate the lights, and conserving our dark night sky. Our Town Plan clearly states support of the dark night sky as a natural resource as stated in the quotes below:

Preserve the night sky as a natural resource. Dark skies contribute to the ecological and scenic health of town. The appropriate use of lighting contributes to healthy migratory patterns, clear views of the night sky, and the town’s aesthetic and scenic value. Illuminate structures and exterior areas only at levels necessary to ensure safety and security of persons and property.

The VTrans proposal is in violation of our Town Plan. We strongly urge you to consider the natural environment in Putney and implement Mr. Hoviss’ lighting proposal.

The Putney Conservation Commission,

Putney, April 11

Disappointed in Moulton’s decision

Editor of The Reformer:

During a recent Chamber breakfast, we heard from Pat Moulton, new Executive Director of the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation. She described the many efforts BDCC has embarked on to benefit our economy and people. I found her very impressive.

I’m no longer as impressed. Pat took on her new job less than four months ago. And on April 10 it was announced that she’s leaving to be the state’s new Secretary of Commerce and Community Development. I’m sure she was under pressure to fill that post. And when higher duty calls it’s fine to answer. Except it’s not fine if you’ve just committed yourself to a critically important other job.

Maybe in this case there were extenuating circumstances. But it happens too often when there are none. The CEO leaves for a bigger company, the college president for a classier college, the minister for a bigger church, before they’re even settled in their job. And people do that, it seems, without qualms.

If you’re a bagger at the grocery it’s a smaller problem. The job requires less learning and is more easily filled. But executive director is the leading role, to learn and shape the part takes time, and you have staff and a board who are counting on you. Such jobs need a person’s commitment for at least several years.

In the wider world loyalty is fading: Loyalty of employers to employees and the enterprise, and therefore loyalty of employees. We shouldn’t let that happen here.

Byron Stookey,

Brattleboro, April 10

Remember where
our tax money goes

Editor of the Reformer:

Another Tax Day (April 15) has come and gone. I wonder, why are U.S. citizens so reluctant to challenge and resist their government when that government is responsible for so much misery and death it has inflicted on other nations? It’s embarrassing for me to ask this question, when the media is filled with stories of citizens of other countries who risk and lose their lives for simply holding a picture of their disappeared loved ones or otherwise speaking out against their own government and paramilitary oppression.

I’m not a social scientist and the easy path for me would be to simply throw up my hands in despair, say that nothing can be done and pig out on as much personal pleasure that is possible during my remaining years. However, I have a strong belief in the power of people to change this existing corrupt system, which depends upon redemptive violence to be the No. 1 military power and, in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., "the greatest purveyor of violence on Earth." Just as Gandhi and MLK, Jr. depended upon a deep spiritual center and creative non-violence to achieve their objectives, it’s possible for us also. We can’t afford to wait for a charismatic leader to guide us, because that person will likely never come.

Consider this: The U.S. has over 700 military bases throughout the world; It’s the world’s No. 1 arms merchant; Its military budget equals the military budgets of the rest of the world combined; It’s the only nation that has dropped atomic weapons on civilian populations; And it’s the only nation that is capable of wiping out the retaliatory nuclear weapons of its most heavily armed adversary (Russia) in a surprise nuclear first strike. Right now, we are pouring billions of dollars into upgrading the U.S. nuclear arsenal, while at the same time refusing to set a date for complete nuclear disarmament, as required by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty that we signed over 25 years ago. And right now, the U.S.government will take the federal tax dollars that were due by April 15 and pour nearly half of that money into a bottomless military pit that depends upon the false concept of "defense" to survive.

Remember, it is possible for anybody to refuse to pay for war.

Daniel Sicken,

Dummerston, April 3