Voluntary labeling for genetically modified foods not enough
Re Feb. 16 AP article, “Food industry seeks voluntary GMO labeling”: We need laws requiring that all food with genetically modified organism (GMOs) be labeled, not so-called voluntary GMO labeling.
Many (mostly processed foods) already contain genetically modified corn, canola, sugar beets and soy. Genetially modified zucchini is already in a market near you, and the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] may soon approve genetically modified apples and salmon for sale. Labeling laws need to be passed before the market is flooded with genetically modified, and we won’t know what we’re buying. We should have the right to know about or food supply.
The only reason that GMO crops exist is so more herbicides and pesticides can be used on them, which results in more profit for the producers of those chemicals. Those tons and tons of chemicals result in degradation of the environment: the soil becomes deadly — therefore needing more chemical fertilizers, the water way and aquifers become polluted with runoff of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers which also results in river pollution leading to dead zones in places like the Gulf of Mexico.
There is also evidence that GMO foods contribute to the astounding increase in autism in the United states, probably by changing the bacteria in the gut since GMO seeds include built in antibiotics as part of how they are created.
All consumers should do the research and see for yourselves what GMOs are wreaking on us and the environment. We can start by passing a law similar to laws passed in other nearby states (Maine, Vermont and Connecticut) requiring that all GMO products be labeled.
Then we should, as the European Union has already done, ban GMOs altogether.
Flood victims still in need of help
In the late summer of 2011, area news outlets produced hundreds of reports chronicling the unfolding disaster caused by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.
Cameras and words captured not only the physical damage, but the pain and heartache of the victims, many of whom lost everything. The attention they felt immediately after the flooding has faded. The cameras and reporters have left, and with them much of the governmental support.
The victims remain, however, suffering in despair. Even the “fortunate” family with home insurance discovered they were left with nothing — their home and all possessions gone — because the insurance only paid off their remaining mortgage.
Circumstances drove some into abject poverty. After two years, no longer in the immediate wake of the disaster, many folks remain stuck in no man’s land — not qualifying for government help, yet with too few resources to recover on their own.
Organizations such as SALT [Schoharie Area Long Term] (www.saltrecovery.org) and the Joshua Project (www.thejoshuaproject.net) continue to work for victims. They remain on the ground, staffed mostly with volunteers, and work mainly in enabling roles. Their missions are similar, to address not only the physical needs of the victims, but to help heal their minds and souls.
We would do well to help those organizations carry on their good work.
Krauthammer and the Flat Earth Society
Boy, that columnist Charles Krauthammer sure is on the ball.
In the Feb. 23 paper, he says we should keep debating whether climate change is real and that anybody who says it’s settled is full of beans because: “There is nothing more anti-scientific than the very idea that science is settled.”
Yeah, those scientists have a lot of nerve saying anything is definite. Like, they say there’s this thing called gravity that makes things fall. But then how come birds can fly? We’ll never know for sure.
Another thing that scientists don’t know anything certain about is these things called atoms. Supposedly they’re too small for us to see and that’s why so many scientists aren’t sure if the periodic table of the elements means anything. And sometimes at night there are these tiny lights in the sky, but no one’s ever touched them, so scientists can’t ever agree about what they could be.
So we better do what Charles Krauthammer says and continue debating the reality of climate change — that’ll sure keep us from doing anything stupid.
Kendra’s Law can save mentally ill
Sarah Foss’ Feb. 25 column deals with a friend’s suicide and the question whether a good system of community mental health care can prevent someone like that from falling through the cracks. I’ll take a stab at it.
First, no system is foolproof or assured to keep someone from killing themself — unfortunately, experience proves that. But it’s clear that to reduce the kind of risks presented by a seriously mentally ill person who is repeatedly a danger to herself or others, the person has to be forced to accept a disciplined form of treatment. We have that in this county, known as AOT — assisted outpatient treatment — also called Kendra’s Law.
For some who are sick enough to refuse treatment, for a number of reasons, or homeless or out of touch, it’s a difficult chore to get them to come in for treatment of any kind. But the best avenue we have, as far as I know, is AOT, which is going to lessen the need for repeat hospitalizations, and it costs far less.
In Schenectady County, a doctor, family member or member of a mental health treatment team can petition the county court to mandate that the patient must take medicine or stay in treatment in order to remain in society.
Most people go along with that kind of pressure. If they refuse, they are forced to go into the hospital for more intensive care. Kendra’s Law now has provisions, I believe, for follow-up and evaluation beyond that. It’s the best way we have to change a person’s behavior when they are in deep distress, and possibly save a life.
The writer is the co-president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Schenectady.
We can’t give up on making peace
I was glad to read Sara Foss’ Feb. 23 column! Her sentiments about the “ongoing war” closely resemble my own feelings. Even though I am not a regular participant in the weekly demonstration at the corner of Liberty and Clinton streets in Schenectady, I am very supportive of this ongoing effort by Schenectady Neighbors for Peace.
I did participate in at least two of the bus trips to New York City before the Afghanistan and Iraq wars started, and I continue to be disturbed by the drone attacks on “enemy” targets which often kill or maim innocent civilians in various countries.
It is good to see that people involved with the peace movement continue to draw attention to the issues that still confront us and, I am afraid, always will!
Many thanks to Sara Foss for highlighting their efforts and dedication.
Helga Asquith Schroeter
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