Letter Box

Thursday January 31, 2013

Lots of work
to do Editor of the Reformer:

In this land of the rich, the corporate, the bullies, the disempowered, and the ultra-regional, here’s a not-so-hearty welcome to Messrs. Kerry, Lew, Brennan, and Hagel, the four old white guys who’ve been summoned to State, Treasury, CIA, and "Defense" posts in Washington, DC. (Whaddya know? It’s "All in the Family" time.)

You know, it’s a pity we also don’t have a new (old) Harry Reid yet, to replace the majority leader in recognition of his shabby work on filibuster "reform," the Amgen theft of $500 million in the "fiscal cliff" act, and an anticipated reluctance to do anything significant on gun violence legislation.

GM and "GM Finance" (now known as Ally Financial) still owe us $32.9 billion in TARP dollars (the 2009 Troubled Asset Relief Program), yet Treasury has just OK’d salary raises for their execs (along with AIG’s) for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The big banks thrive like never before. Shootings go on and on and on. Our good Congressman, Peter Welch, has to resort to a citizen petition to help get the lapsed Farm Bill passed in the House. The Guantanamo prison stays open because of congressional meddling and executive inaction. We have yet to repudiate CIA rendition and secret detention practices . (By the bye, what happened to torture prohibition and habeas corpus?) In Africa, a Predator drone base is about to get under way in Niger, ostensibly for military surveillance purposes, but who’s to know?

Hey old codgers, you’ve got work to do. And the exhilaration of Inaugural Weekend is barely a week old.

Alan O. Dann,

Marlboro, Jan. 29

GM foods are safe

Editor of the Reformer:

Yes, the majority of Americans, when asked directly, believe genetically modified foods should be labeled. However, it should be noted that if the surveyor, prior to the question being asked, did not mention GM foods, less than 1 percent of Americans included GM foods as something that should be added to food labels. So do Americans really think this is a critical issue or are we just responding to terms with negative connotations when primed? That’s just something to think about. But I’m not writing to specifically address the issue of GM food labeling; I’m writing to clarify and correct an unscientific claim about GM foods from the column "How Seriously are we about GMO Labeling?" (Jan. 28).

That column included a line that continues to be the basis of many campaigns to "label it."

"Informed consumers do not want to purchase or consume GM foods because of the increasing evidence that they present serious health risks." I do not know what evidence the author was referring to because an overwhelming, and growing, majority of scientific literature states that GM foods are as safe as conventionally grown foods. But don’t take my word for it; the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the British Royal Society, and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences have all certified GM crops as safe.

This kind of anti-science or science-denying behavior is detrimental to society. If you reject the evidence gathered by scientists on a specific topic, you are in essence rejecting science as a whole. Science thrives on questioning results (or I dare say being cynical), but disbelieving the validity of a result you get time and time again is not science, it’s denial.

So yes, let’s talk about GM foods and society. Let’s talk about the advantages and the disadvantages. Let’s talk about what consumers have the right to know and what the manufactures are responsible for. Let’s talk about what the American people believe and what the American people actually know about GM foods. But let’s not confuse sensationalist claims with the scientific evidence that genetically modified foods are safe.

Kai-Ming Pu,

New Haven, Conn., Jan. 28

Guns, money
and children

Editor of the Reformer:

Driving home today, in my "moving office," pondering the day’s events, I began to think how people in other countries must view the American citizen. Our shores have been relatively peaceful since the Spanish American war in 1898. We have not seen combat on our continent in a century, yet, at this time, many Americans feel under attack.

Why? Our children go off to school in the morning, and we must wonder if there is a chance someone will enter their school armed with a military gun, and kill them and their classmates. This was the case on this snowy Monday. Normally, we should have been happy about a beautiful Vermont day. Instead, police cruisers stood guard at every local school, keeping watch for a dangerous, angry, and armed young man.

We can chalk this up to mental health issues, or say that guns don’t kill, people do, or any number of other platitudes that the NRA likes to trot out. However, the rest of the world has figured out that by banning semi-automatic and automatic guns, the violence stops.

Personally, I find it appalling that NRA members can get away with their egotistical and outdated nonsense. Their arguments don’t hold water and are a disgrace to a nation of highly educated, peace loving people. I am appalled that there is not more of an outcry; that phones are not ringing off their hooks at each congressman’s office.

The gun lobby and the military are making big money off these weapons. Until we all decide to protest en masse, our congressmen will hear the voices of the gun lobby loudest; after all, the NRA and the Lockheed’s are protecting their interests. Are their profits more valuable than our children? Today, that is how it looks to the rest of the world.

We all need to take responsibility; phone or e-mail your congressman, write to the paper, stand up, and express your anger. Your voice does matter, your dollar matters, make yourself heard, America, or we will continue to be the strange country where democracy reigns, but 5- and 6-year-old children die while trying to learn how to read.

Johanna Gardner,

Newfane, Jan. 29


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