Forum, Jan. 2: Rotten Cultural Messages

Monday, January 01, 2018
Rotten Cultural Messages

The last paragraph of Sally Kohn’s recent excellent op-ed headlined “Treat Sexual Harassment as a Hate Crime” could be adapted for looking at racial (and other) prejudices. She stated, in part (my inserts in parenthesis), “(We) still unconsciously or consciously absorb our cultural messages and norms about the inherent inferiority of women (blacks), a belief that courses through all of our veins, whether we intend for it to or not, simply because it’s the rotten air we’ve all learned to breathe. That’s the rot at the core of misogynistic (racial) harassment and assault — a rot within all of us, that has nothing to with sex or affection (race) and everything to do with hate (or loss of power).”

Perhaps the Hartford Racial Inequality Committee should take a deep breath and search inward honestly.

Muriel Farrington

White River Junction

Phil Scott’s Ultimate Aim

Here we go again. Vermont Gov. Phil Scott is once again pushing his big-government, top-down approach. Local school boards and the voters in those districts should be making these decisions. The state’s $80 million deficit was created in large part when Scott vetoed the education bill that passed with bipartisan support. Here are some of the consequences of Scott’s veto:

Made the nonresidential (investment property) rate for the state education tax the same as the residential.

Spent $20 million in reserve funds in 2017. It was intended for later use!

Shifted education pension costs from the General Fund to the Education Fund, which made his state budget look better, but is a big part of this current 9 percent education tax increase .

Shifted Medicaid reimbursement costs to schools.

Add to all this the more costly responsibilities that are being heaped onto local budgets — opiate addiction, excessive use of special education, etc.

This is all part of Scott’s master plan to control Vermont education from Montpelier. His ultimate aim is to wreck the unions and to privatize education. Remember that proposal last year pushing a statewide teachers contract?

The governor’s proposed “Education Summit” discussion should happen not at the top but at the base of the mountain, at the local level — local school boards, local voters, local teachers who have voted for the programs they want their students to have.

Bill Kuch

Springfield, Vt.

GMO-Related Problems

Mitch Daniels’ op-ed published in the Dec. 29 Valley News, “GMO Opposition Is Fundamentally Immoral,” fails to address the problems that GMO crops have created. As a scientist and having read a lot of research on this topic, I have no problem eating any of the GMO products on the market. However, I still prefer to buy non-GMO food. It is important to preserve diversity in our food supply.

The failure of the GMO herbicide-resistant technology is proven by the fact that Monsanto has recently developed a new generation of GMO crops to allow spraying of 2,4-D, (one of the ingredients in Agent Orange) along with Roundup. Just as insects evolved to require stronger and stronger pesticides, super-weeds have evolved the ability to tolerate herbicides. The whole strategy of chemical warfare against pests needs to be reconsidered. In addition, poorly controlled spraying of 2,4-D last season resulted in significant crop losses for the neighboring farms not using GMO seed. Hundreds are currently suing Monsanto.

The primary beneficiaries of current GMO farming have been the chemical companies that have reaped large profits. Economic analysis shows that in some places, farmers also benefit. Cotton in India is one example of success. However, it is not a given that GMO crops benefit farmers or produce more food.

There is certainly a place for GMOs. Africa needs plants that resist drought and don’t need fertilizer. They need more nutritious crops. When Monsanto and others begin producing these needed products, I will stand up and cheer. But Roundup Ready and BT crops are a technological dead end. Furthermore, dependence on monoculture of a few crops leads to malnutrition and a food system that is subject to catastrophic failure. Monsanto donated the genes for Golden Rice, a crop that would protect millions from blindness due to Vitamin A deficiency. But having people plant a few sweet potatoes to go with their rice solves the same problem.

Genetic technology has improved with the advent of CRISPR/Cas9 techniques that modify genes rather than importing them from other species. These new technologies are not even required to be called GMOs. I only hope they are used well.

David E Henderson