Letters for February 19, 2004

Altered states
Percy Schmeiser brought some frightening news to Chico last week. Genetically modified (GM) seed is a terrifying movement closer to Pandora’s box than the nuclear threat. Because of air-borne spread of seed, production of GM seed threatens to contaminate the seed stock for the world’s food supply. Monsanto is at the forefront of the GM movement, and many members of Bush’s cabinet serve on the Monsanto board. They pay heavily into campaign contributions.

When Monsanto GM seed contaminates a farmer’s crop, Monsanto sues the farmer, breaking the backs of smaller farmers, destroying their seed, their crop, their livelihood. Monsanto sends letters to farmers telling them that the farmer may be illegally growing their seed. If the farmer sends them a certified check for $100, or $200,000, they won’t press charges! They add, “You are not permitted to show this letter to anyone.” They send out brochures stating that they will give any farmer a leather jacket if they inform on their neighbor who may be using “Round-Up Ready Seed” without paying the licensing fees!

To learn more, log onto Percy Schmeiser’s Web site, www.percyschmeiser.com. Consider ways that you can spread the word and change the course of this devastating threat to life. With enough citizen outrage, it could become part of the democratic campaign for the presidency.

Emily Alma

Beware the Atkins diet
So, the jig is up. The Atkins high-protein diet craze that has been sweeping the nation has shown its ugly underbelly, and it’s heart disease (as well as a host of other chronic diseases linked with consumption of fatty meat and dairy products). A consumer advocacy group released a medical examiner’s report showing that the infamous Dr. Atkins suffered from obesity and heart disease.

Apparently, the dozen expert panels that reviewed thousands of diet and health studies over the past three decades were not crazy after all. Every one of them concluded that Americans should replace meat and dairy products in their diet with vegetables, fresh fruits and whole grains. None reached the opposite conclusion.

As consumers, we need to be constantly vigilant for diet gurus who would exploit our obsession with physical appearance to promote their profit-driven agendas. The price we pay, beyond an inflated food bill, is life-long chronic afflictions and a curtailed life span. Let’s hope that this lesson does not come too late for victims of the Atkins diet.

Vincent Santiago

Shared responsibility
I have learned that the public school system is the only public institution charged with developing the social order we know as democracy. A necessary requirement for its existence is surely public debate and dialogue such as that in this newspaper. Many would say it is the duty of educators to introduce topics to debate that are relevant to our modern society and world.

Scholars in every major area of academia have been reporting the grim reality about the health of our people and the planet. American obesity and energy issues are closely related. We are, in actuality, close to the edge of environmental and social catastrophe. Does it make sense at this point to uphold the status quo and to maintain our overly consumptive lifestyles regardless of the continuing impact? What better way to teach practical solutions to our problems than to model their adoption? This could take the form of biking to school and work, purchasing more fuel-efficient vehicles, using biodiesel, hydrogen and electric cars as they come available, and especially talking about alternative energy sources for all our needs. What is absolutely critical to a healthy democracy is action: What are you doing to contribute to a healthier, cleaner and more equitable world?

Deva Daniel

Where’s the money?
Thank you for your article on the Chico poetry teens ["Word ninjas,” Fine arts, Feb. 5]. This is a wonderful program. Mr.Yamaguchi, along with other participants past and present, deserves much credit and our support. Two years ago I financially supported the program (then known as ChicoSpeaksOut) in some of their fund-raising efforts and would like to again. However, I cannot do so until Mr. Yamaguchi conducts the advertised raffle for a $1,000 prize for which many people (I am not one of them) bought tickets two years ago.

As of Feb. 8, 2004, the ChicoSpeaksOut Web site still contained the announced postponement of the October 2002 raffle to an unspecified future date. No update announcing the date, time and place of the raffle event has been posted on the Web site. None of the several people I have talked to who bought tickets have been notified of the raffle event, nor of any winner.

We are left to assume that the postponement still stands. It is difficult enough for nonprofits to raise funds under the best of circumstances. Such a lengthy postponement of the raffle event can only raise questions about the integrity of the Chico nonprofit community in general and this group in particular. For the sake of all nonprofit efforts and the teens in the poetry group, I encourage Mr. Yamaguchi to announce when and where the postponed October 2002 raffle is to be held and who the lucky winner of $1,000 is.

Beau Grosscup

Now we know
I recently picked up an issue of your paper and read the article about the candidates for Butte County supervisor ["Run for you lives,” Newslines, Jan. 15.] It was well done, but I don’t think it gave proper credit to John Busch, who is running against Curt Josiassen for supervisor in the 4th District of Butte County. To refer to John as a “political unknown” is not correct. You may not know him or much about him, but he is anything but politically unknown. I have watched this guy for the last 10 years as he worked diligently for his political party and, indeed, the people of Northern California.

He has been a part of or at least attended dozens of events from here to the Oregon border. He is past chairman of the Modoc County Republican Central Committee. He has hosted events in his summer home that were attended by nearly every Northstate congressman, state senator and assemblyman as well as a host of state and county Republican Party leaders.

He has worked for the California State Assembly and been a city planning commissioner. He is endorsed by Rep. John Doolittle, state Sen. Rico Oller, the mayors of Oroville, Gridley and Paradise as well as the vice-mayor of Biggs. The list goes on and on.

He may not be your choice for supervisor in the 4th District, and you may not have the opportunity to get to know him, but to call him a political unknown is just not accurate.

Laraine Onyett