Letters for September 12, 2013

Thoughts on Monsanto

Re “Crops held hostage” (Cover feature, by Chris Parker, Sept. 5):

Monsanto’s story makes Guns, Germs, and Steel look like a fairytale. Reining in the company would be an excellent idea. Modifying our political-economic structure to not breed such sociopathic behavior might be better.

We live with a system of rewards and punishments defined by big business. What we were taught in high school about how our country is “by the people and for the people” has mutated into a system that robs from the poor and gives to the rich. Yes, politicians are center-stage, but blaming everything on elected representatives is about as useful as blaming your car fender for hitting a deer. Fenders come and go, and so do politicians. What remains the same is an environment where special interests are allowed to buy and sell politicians on the open market with the blessing of our Supreme Court. Buying a judge is a heinous crime in our legal system and can bring severe punishment, but buying a politician has become good business and can pay off handsomely.

Dwight Eisenhower predicted and warned against pretty much what we now have in his Farewell Address to the Nation on Jan. 17, 1961—the merger of state and corporate power: fascism by definition.

Gene Adkins

Chris Parker’s ridiculous piece on Monsanto and genetically engineered crops illustrates the CN&R’s incredible bias on the subject. The article’s title suggests growers are “terrorized” by big agriculture corporations. I know a lot of farmers, and rather than feeling terrorized, they seem to be energized by the prospects of a genetically engineered trait being developed to help them produce their particular crop more efficiently.

In all fairness, I must give the CN&R credit for giving the [guest comment] space (however small) to Dylan Burge, who is actually qualified to discuss gene-spliced crop technology.

Tom Dowd

Taking the council to task

Re “A matter of minutes” (Newslines, by Tom Gascoyne, Sept. 5):

Aren’t the minutes for City Council meetings just a record of votes? What detail can there be that would cause a six-month lag? It’s unprofessional to use the excuse that now—after trying to do more than what was necessary—less is going to be done.

On another note, Mayor Scott Gruendl has been pretty out of line. Instead of supporting city staff, he has berated them and accused them of starting whisper campaigns. This week, he has gone on record insulting the community because people are asking questions about activities happening at the city.

In this article, he has gone as far as to call people lazy for requesting public documents. I have seen Gruendl make many bad decisions as a council member, including a vote on the Oak Valley subdivision. I have also seen him fight Walmart expanding, only now to start “Walmartizing” the city. I think Gruendl and the rest of the council need to remember whom they work for.

People don’t like the council’s choice for city management. Most everyone feels that City Manager Brian Nakamura and the rest of the executive management are doing a terrible job. It’s OK to admit when you’ve made a bad decision—just fix it!

Nicole Ramirez

Council criticism cont’d

Re “Emergency contract talks” (Downstroke, Sept. 5):

Let me get this straight: The City Council has hired a city manager who has been given a raise, hired his friends with a very nice salary, and yet the city of Chico is going through layoffs and recent talks of park closures. Now they are using emergency funds [$80,000] to hire a law firm from out of town to help break already weak labor relations?

Is this a good use of our tax dollars? And what the hell is City Manager Brian Nakamura getting paid all that money to do? Chico deserves better. We deserve a strong middle class and a City Council that wants to invest in that, not break it.

Sabrina Struth

Interesting omissions

Re “The positive side of GMOs” (Guest comment, by Dylan Burge, Sept. 5):

Dylan Burge claims GMOs are vetted for safety, but he “forgets” to mention that these studies are by the companies that make them. Interestingly, these same companies have been shown in documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act to have withheld data on Agent Orange (another one of their products), so that vets could not get adequate help.

They were shown in courts of law to have withheld information and manipulated scientific studies by urging scientists to change their conclusions to downplay the risks of PCB exposure in the case of Anniston, Ala.

GMOs have categorically been proven to be dangerous to the environment as evidenced in superweeds and insects plaguing farmers all around the United States. The glyphosate they are sprayed with (as they are resistant to it) kills the carbon-sequestering microbes in the soil (which science is now saying does more to clean our environment than trees do).

Our soils are dying, and monocrop agribusiness biotechnology is the culprit. There is more that could be pointed to, but for brevity’s sake, I urge folks to see between the slick talking points that endless profits can buy.

Pamm Larry

Editor’s note: Pamm Larry is the Northern California director for Labelgmos.org and the initial instigator of the 2012 Proposition 37 campaign to label genetically engineered foods in California.

I appreciate Mr. Burge’s comments. Although what he says is true, it is what he doesn’t say that worries me about GMOs. The very fact that you can alter a plant so that spraying it with Roundup will kill everything around it but not the modified plant gives me pause to worry. The GMO plant can absorb a chemical so toxic it requires the wearing of protective clothing to use, and I’m supposed to eat it without concern?

Other GMO plants are altered to be “pest”-resistant. They kill off predatory insects along with the beneficial bacteria in my gastrointestinal tract.

I would ask Mr. Burge why, if GMO food is so good for us, have Monsanto and others spent so much money fighting GMO labeling? Why are GMOs being banned in so many countries? Are all the scientists around the world wrong? Somehow Mr. Burge’s opinion sounds like that of tobacco-company scientists.

Andy Turenne

Movie is a must-see

I wonder why CN&R has not yet seen The Butler or reviewed it. The movie is a “don’t miss.” Released just before the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the film provides an unromanticized view of the Jim Crow South evolving through the civil-rights movement, through the terms of seven presidents culminating in President Obama’s election. It provides an excellent overview of key moments of the movement.

Like my grandchildren, most young people of our time have little understanding of the harsh struggles of the civil-rights movement. My 14-year-old granddaughter said basically what she learned in school was about Rosa Parks on the bus, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Our children need to know more!

Viewing The Butler is an opportunity for youth to begin to understand those times, and to remind the rest of us. The movie has a rich plot and moves right along—funny, poignant, inspiring. Forest Whitaker is at his best, as is Oprah Winfrey. They portray an amazing couple going through their own struggles as events of the world touch their lives.

Please don’t miss this amazing film! It is a contribution to a poignant history.

Emily Alma

Don’t underestimate Syria

I know America is the last great superpower. But is it unbeatable in conflicts like an attack on Syria? If you have been paying attention the last week or so, all you have heard is about the attack on Syria and how mighty our forces are. The public anticipates this will be a piece of cake.

What has not been talked about is the Syrian missile capability to take out our ships before they can get within striking distance. Nor do we know how many of these things they have. We do know they have the latest Russian Sunburn missile to which there is supposedly no defense. They have other old-yet-proficient missiles, the number of which I can’t find out.

There is a high probability of this war spreading to other countries. How do we weigh the odds that Iran will enter the fray or maybe even Russia? Both have submarines capable of using missiles to destroy our ships. You can bet that somewhere in this fray, if it happens, we will see pictures of American ships headed for the bottom.

We may be the baddest ass in the valley, but we are not the only deadly one. One can only hope we don’t find out that this guess of mine is correct.

Bob Sheide, retired U.S. Navy

Film fest embraces diversity

Chico has long been host to a variety of events that bring the community together. In September alone, Chico welcomes visitors from all over the North State to Artoberfest, Taste of Chico and the Chico World Music Festival.

The ninth annual FOCUS Film Festival, Oct. 3-5, is another great event that community members should be aware of. More than 30 narrative and documentary films will be featured that showcase issues related to diversity and inclusion. Films are also meant to educate the public. The festival’s mission is to have individuals embrace diversity, not as a difference, but as a blend of varied and valuable contributions.

Films include topics related to homelessness, art, music, civil rights, veterans, race, sexuality, addiction and advocacy. FOCUS Film Festival has partnered with Chico State’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion to make the festival accessible to everyone, including students. Various film stars and directors will be present for discussion throughout the festival. This is a wonderful opportunity for open communication and discussion about the prevalent topics in each film.

For more information about FOCUS Film Festival and a list of film descriptions and screening times, visit www.FocusFilmFestCalifornia.com.

Raquel Borrayo