Letters to the Editor

GMO debate, climate change, price gouging, red-light runners, etc.

Genetically modified seeds are promoted as a way to get better crops, though critics
 have health concerns.
Genetically modified seeds are promoted as a way to get better crops, though critics have health concerns. rbenton@sacbee.com

There’s more to the GMO debate

Re “GMO use is a growing controversy” (Feast, May 24): Staff writer Sammy Caiola’s article on the debate over genetically modified foods uses a very familiar frame: Scientists and farmers want to use GMOs to feed the world, while some consumers have concerns about health and environmental hazards.

However, a large body of research shows that GMO opponents include sober-minded scientists and farmers, and that opponents are just as concerned about political and economic issues. Common concerns include the economic power of large corporations over small farmers, intellectual property restrictions on independent research and close ties between corporate interests and government regulators.

When the debate is framed in terms of agricultural productivity vs. health, it’s easy to think that science will tell us what to do. However, a broader framing, informed by empirical research into people’s concerns, helps us recognize that the GMO debate is unavoidably political.

Daniel J. Hicks, London, Ontario, Canada

Ignorant about GMOs

What annoys me about people arguing for or against GMOs is simply their ignorance. As the article mentioned, many people don’t know the difference between a genetically modified organism and a genetically engineered organism. Many people don’t know that many of the fruits and vegetables – even organic and “non-GMO” – that we eat today are artificially modified in some way or the other.

For millennia, farmers have been breeding and mixing varieties of crops that they find to be favorable. The plump strawberries and the seedless bananas we eat today do not just come into existence naturally; they were selected and modified. Those who argue “plants should just grow how they grow” are simply ignorant of the fact that humanity has been breeding crops with favorable traits throughout our existence.

Vince Zhu, Sacramento

If bugs don’t like GMO plants …

If the bugs won’t go near the concoction of genetically engineered seeds, what makes their advocates think human beings should?

Bettina R. Flores, Granite Bay

Marriage equality victory in Ireland

Re “Landslide Ireland vote legalizes gay marriage” (Page 18A, May 24): All countries should be watching Ireland for its huge victory in the struggle against inequality. They have proven that it is possible for the majority of people to vote for a cause that is becoming increasingly popular in the West today. Thank you for your example, Ireland.

Quinn Fujii, Sacramento

DoD: climate change is a threat

Re “Different view of great threat” (Letters, May 23): The letter questions President Barack Obama’s graduation speech to the Coast Guard Academy, where he told the new officers what they would be dealing with in the years to come. The letter writer said that the biggest threat is the rise of Islamic terrorism. While he is correct in his short-term assessment, the Pentagon has taken a serious look at the climate threat and released a comprehensive report called the “2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap.”

Unlike earlier Pentagon assessments that focused mainly on sea level rise and its impact on naval bases, this report called on our military to incorporate climate change into a broader strategic thinking about high-risk regions of the globe – for example, the ways in which drought and food shortages might set off political unrest in the Middle East and Africa.

Jim Lerner, Sacramento

Red-light runner craziness

Re “Truck driver injured in light-rail collision” (Page 1A, May 23): I just spent two weeks visiting Sacramento, and during my stay I drove daily throughout downtown and midtown. Unfortunately, one of my searing memories will be the incredible number of red-light runners that I witnessed. I’ve never seen anything like it.

I’m not talking about drivers caught in an intersection by a yellow light. These were people who flat-out seemed to be oblivious that the light was red. I began creeping through every intersection, fearing that another red-light runner was on the way.

Chuck Aswell, Penn Valley

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