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Letters 3-26-2013

Genetic modification

A question of interests

Thank you for printing the article on deferral of the Hawaii Senate bill to require labeling of genetically modified organism foods.

There is a growing movement among Americans to seek labeling of foods that contain GMO ingredients. Thus far, the agribusiness corporations have used their abundant wealth and influence to prevent labeling of foods. These corporations, of which Monsanto is one of the largest, spend huge sums to influence lawmakers and to put spin in their promotional material to the public. Letting the consumer decide is not an outcome they want to see.

GMO crops are created by the insertion of a portion of a micro-organism’s DNA into the genetic material of the crop. In Monsanto’s case, it markets Roundup-ready seeds that, in theory, mean that farmland can be sprayed with this herbicide without damage to the crop. Seems smart, but wait: Roundup-resistant weeds have already been induced by the heavy use of Roundup and to counter that, Monsanto is promoting use of its other herbicide, 2,4-D, which has known toxicity to wildlife and people, as well as known carcinogenic effects.

Monsanto is using Hawaii land for genetically engineered seed production for export. Monsanto is using thousands of acres of valuable Hawaiian agricultural land as its global center for open-air testing of its GE crops. Not only is this land not available for food production, Monsanto’s farming practices lead to pesticide and herbicide contamination of the land, the water, and the air and genetic contamination of farm crops on lands where pollen from GE crops can be spread by wind.

The safety of GMO containing foods is questioned by some. While generally regarded as safe, there are questions to be answered.

Because agribusiness corporations use their patent rights to exercise tight control over the review of their research, independent evaluation of the safety of the products is limited.

What many consumers to do not know is the extent to which GMO crops already have entered the food supply.

In information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 90 percent of the U.S. soybean crop is GE. Soy products are in such foods as tofu, soy milk and even the ubiquitous emulsifier lecithin (derived from soy bean oil), which is used in candy and ice cream. More than 80 percent of the U.S. corn crop is GE. Corn derived high-fructose corn syrup is in too many foods to name. Corn flour, of course, is in corn tortillas — and so on. More than 90 percent of U.S. sugar beets are GE. More than 90 percent U.S. canola is GE. More than 90 percent of U.S. cottonseed (oil in dressings and snacks) is GE.

The unfettered control by a few very large agribusiness corporations have over the seed markets is made even more worrisome by their coupling of the seed market with the chemical pesticide and herbicide markets.

Hawaii Sen. Rosalyn Baker refused to allow the labeling bill to come up for a vote. According to the article, state “senators are going to push a resolution to ensure more research about genetically modified organisms is done.”

Oh, that that were so. I’d like to believe Sen. Baker has the interests of Hawaii citizens foremost in her decision, but ….

Nancy Bauer


Pahoehoe Beach Park

Mow, blow and go

I am addressing the recent coconut trimming that occurred on March 6, at Pahoehoe Beach Park. They commenced from the southern side of the park and stopped before the shower/drinking fountain area. In other words, the area that people use the most, the coconuts were not trimmed as of this past Wednesday (March 20).

The coconuts are at least of softball size. I would imagine that priorities were scrutinized and these coconuts were deemed to be of low importance. The county should at least screen off the area with “warning” tape and or signs.

Besides the possibility of falling coconuts injuring the public, the overall maintenance of this beach park is more of a reactionary way of doing business.

Unless there are complaints, business will be as usual with that park: mow, blow and go.

Clyde Kidani