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Forum, Jan. 5: Follow the GMO Money


Thursday, January 04, 2018
Follow the GMO Money

Friday’s Opinion Page had a lengthy article titled “GMO Opposition is Fundamentally Immoral” (Dec. 29) written by Mitch Daniels, the president of Purdue University. He leaves out two very important facts.

First, the companies that create and sell GMO seeds hold patents for those seeds’ DNA.

That means no farmer can plant a crop and then use some of the seeds from the plants he has grown to plant the next year’s crop. Monsanto owns the seeds he grows, and the farmer must always go back to Monsanto and buy the GMO seeds he is planting each year.

Several years ago, when Haiti had an earthquake, Monsanto made a big deal about giving seeds to Haitian farmers.

The farmers refused the gift because they knew it would make them indebted to Monsanto forever. They could never grow and save seeds, they’d always have to buy them from Monsanto. GMOs make corporations lots of money, but do not necessarily make life better for people.

Second, it looks like Purdue University, like many educational-research institutions, depends on corporate sponsorship to do that research.

My dad, Bill Mitchell, was an agronomist, extension agent and professor in the College of Agriculture at the University of Delaware. The DuPont Co. was a significant supporter of the college, as well as being a significant producer of fertilizers and agrichemicals.

At one point, a Delaware farmer’s crops were destroyed because of the amount of agrichemicals he’d applied to his fields, following DuPont’s guidelines. My dad was called as an expert witness in the case and testified that the manufacturer’s instructions far exceeded the appropriate level, with crop failure resulting.

The next day, my dad was called into the dean’s office and was read the riot act — “How dare you say in court that the company was wrong? Don’t you know that they are the ones who fund all our research (and our jobs) here?”

Daniels writes about GMOs as “life-saving and life-enhancing advances that modern science alone can bring” and efforts to block them are “immoral.”

I say, follow the money.

As the Haitian farmers wisely understood, just because it is new and scientific doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for your family, your future or maintaining a healthy planet Earth.

Mary Chin

East Thetford

Turning Fury Into Progress

A gentle inquiry for my fellow Upper Valley residents: So what will you do with your Trump-triggered outrage today? ​Venting is healthy. You’ve been venting for a year now.

What’s next?

​Change a few superficial details and you’d feel the appropriate natural or cultivated compassion we expect from civilized members of society toward the profoundly damaged who blow up figurative or literal worlds as they try to relieve their own inner anguish. You’d see the endlessly bleeding child of a brutally domineering, belittling father and a mother who failed to protect him during those most tender, formative years.

​You’d see the person for whom no amount of simulated or genuine admiration or love can ever fill that monstrously echoing interior black hole.

​Yeah — I wish he’d been self-aware enough to get some heavy, heavy therapy, and that Ivana had sent the kids for it. I revile the enablers who only want to get their big and little payouts from helping the guy further destroy every possible element of redemption within himself.

​I ask why so many of my fellow Americans excused in Bill Clinton what they now choose to loathe in Trump.

​But again I ask, what are you going to do about turning fury into progress? Where do you bank? What pasta do you buy? Who’s your cellular carrier? Gotta have an iPhone? Still on Facebook?

​All power is economic power. You needn’t convince anyone of the rightness of your cause. You just need to demonstrate what it will cost them to ignore you.

Planning to spend any vacation dollars in a red state? Why? Why would any person of progressive values ever go to, say, Florida these days?

It’s easy to mock Trump. It’s a fun, new Hollywood industry. But I’ve known guys like him, up close and personal. I know they never had a chance to become healthy, grown-up men. If we count ourselves as having a somewhat better outcome in life, let’s find a way to prove it, together. Being a better example isn’t as viscerally satisfying. But let’s take the long view and forego these momentary pleasures so maybe we can get a real conversation going.

​Sarah Crysl Akhtar

​Lebanon

Stop the War of Twitter Words

President Trump taunted Kim Jong Un over North Korea’s nuclear arsenal by tweeting: “I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one. ...”

Can someone — anyone — stop our president from engaging in this reckless, civilization-risking exchange of taunts?

Jim Hughes

West Fairlee