Letters 7-7-13

GMO has been used for centuries

Two hundred years ago, the European wine industry was collapsing because of pests and diseases inadvertently brought back from the New World. A solution was found by grafting the endangered cultivars onto American rootstocks. This simple fix was met with near universal condemnation. It was said to be unnatural, impossible and fraudulent. Only the pending extinction of the industry itself forced growers and consumers into accepting such a genetic partnership.

One hundred years later as the emerging sciences of biology and inheritance pointed the way to improved crops and livestock though hybridization, again, people were outraged. Men like Luther Burbank were condemned by clergy for hubris in attempting to improve on God’s handy work, and by xenophobes afraid of the consequences of combining species that would never have encountered each other in nature.

Now in the face of a new revolution in man’s knowledge and ability to interact in the natural world, this same mentality has resurfaced to decry the science of genetically modified organisms.

What should have been a public discussion of priorities and methods has degenerated into a screaming self-righteous mob lashing out at their own ignorance.

Monsanto’s Roundup-ready soybeans and corn are a threat to human health? Why is there no discussion about the Pentagon’s weaponization of anthrax and plague bacteria?

You must warn the world about diseased-resistant papaya affecting one’s health? Why aren’t you demanding labels on GMO-derived pharmaceuticals like insulin and human growth hormone?

I have met individuals afraid of a radish gene inserted into a banana plant to protect a critical food resource in equatorial Africa, but are indifferent to botox injections.

There are those who would never eat a GM potato but who ignorantly smoke GM tobacco. The European Union won’t allow the importation of GM crops but recently approved the use of a genetically modified virus to be injected directly into human heart tissue.

The latest frontier in GMO research is the human egg itself. By combining the genes of three individuals instead of two, mankind could eliminate genetic diseases.

Critics of this boon of science will be outraged as millions of anxious parents ignore their doomsday warnings and have their embryonic offspring’s DNA altered.

My question to the proponents of the anti-GMO bill is: Will these future individuals be allowed to live on Hawaii with the rest of us, or are they as threatening as a virus-resistant papaya?

Brian Lievens


Medical marijuana does do good

May I add my two cents to Dr. Charlie Webb’s wonderful letter?

I am old — very. Because of the pain in my knees I was using a cane — a walker was next. Then I found medical marijuana oil. I am licensed and so is my provider. Now I can walk like a normal person, including up and down stairs. Stairs are the enemy to anyone over 70.

Why is against the law for an old lady to rub oil on her sore knees? Why do I have to spend so much of my tiny Social Security check on a license and the oil? It should be legal so I don’t have to pay for the expensive license every year and the oil should be covered by my medical insurance. It is saving my insurance company money — I am not whining for cortisone shots or knee replacement surgery.

Please do what Dr. Webb suggested: Contact the senators and representatives and remind them that someday they will be 70 also and need the very thing they are fighting.

Annette LaBonte


What about our safety from those on pot?

Reading the latest letter from Dr. Charlie Webb should make people ask a simple question: With all the “legal” and illegal potheads in our state, what I want to know — and I doubt I am the only one — is what are the legislators that are pushing legalization doing to protect their citizens?

What are they doing to keep people under the influence of pot from driving, operating heavy equipment, flying airplanes, driving buses, not carrying a gun, not being in jobs or critical positions that could lead to adverse effects on an innocent population.

Somehow I think in the eagerness to get America on pot, they are forgetting that there millions of us that aren’t interested but want to be sure we are safe from this wave of hypocrisy.

Frank Dickinson