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Your Views for August 11

Support farmers

Farmers feed us, and they need access to the best technology. Bill 79 and efforts like it are terrible mistakes. It is fear-based legislation that comes from the misunderstanding that biotechnology is too dangerous to use. Crops with flood and drought resistance, insect and disease resistance, enhanced nutrition profiles and other beneficial traits are being developed, and these bills shut the door on all of it. Biotechnology is young, and we haven’t even gotten to the good stuff yet.

Supporters of this bill were surprised that so many farmers rose in opposition, but farmers have serious challenges. Weather, pests, diseases and market conditions too often undermine their best efforts. Papaya farmers on our island could not grow a crop without the transgenic Rainbow papaya. These plants have resistance to papaya ringspot virus (PRSV), and except for being resistant to PRSV, they are exactly the same as the nontransgenic papayas. If you know someone who eats papaya in Hilo, they are likely eating transgenic papaya, and they are likely pretty healthy.

Bill 79 would condemn all biotechnological solutions based on irrational fear. There have been hundreds of studies looking at the safety of transgenic crops and the overwhelming consensus is that these products are as safe and environmentally friendly as their nontransgenic counterparts. There is no credible argument on this point in the scientific community. This issue is pretty much settled.

I have been working in plant molecular biology since 1986, received a PhD in plant pathology in 1991 from Cornell University, and moved back home to take a job at UH-Hilo in 1993. Dr. Dennis Gonsalves’ team was able to develop PRSV-resistant papaya plants in about that same period, and they made these plants available to Hawaii growers less than five years later.

The plant pathology community was optimistic this technology would curb many viral plant diseases, but misguided proposals like Bill 79 do nothing but dampen progress. Over 90 percent of U.S. corn, cotton and soybean growers choose to plant transgenic crops every year because those crops provide a worthwhile benefit.

Please allow Big Island farmers, who are among our best friends and neighbors, to use the best technology available. Please talk to a farmer before supporting these bills.

Michael Shintaku


‘Do the math’

Andrea Tischler must be wrong and retired police officer Larry Moore (Tribune-Herald, Your Views, Aug. 4) must be right. He has arrested more than 2,000 people. With approximately 300,000 police officers in the country, that’s 2,000 multiplied by 300,000, which equals 600 million; 85 percent of that number is about 40 million, and one-third of that equals about 13.5 million pot smokers off the streets. No problem: We just need bigger jails and a million more cops.

Come on, Andrea, just do the math.

Michael Engstrom


Step up, people

Remember the Prohibition, Larry Moore (Tribune-Herald, Your Views, Aug. 4)? How did that stupid idea work out? Huh? Fermented drinks. Oh, me. Herbaceous plants. Oh, my. Chocolate, peanut butter, coffee and tea.

People have been self-medicating for years, Larry. What planet have you been on? Get out much? Any clue how many of your family and friends use (or have used) marijuana? You don’t want to know! Does that make them bad, or “criminals?” Of course not. It’s our stupid laws that makes them so!

Does people’s use of marijuana, in August of 2013, make them criminals any more than the people who had a cold beer on Dec. 4, 1933 — the day before the United States repealed the 18th Amendment — were criminals? Reasonable and intelligent people know better.

Your glorious “war on drugs,” Larry? It’s not working, either, in case you’ve been sleeping. The “war” was over before it started. Sorry.

Once the smart people of today do with stupid marijuana laws what the smart people last century did with the stupid alcohol laws, we’ll all be a lot better off. Just ask anybody who actually went through the abortion of logic and justice that the disastrous “war on alcohol” was. Experience, Larry, experience. And history. It won’t be any more kind to the well-intentioned zealots of today than it was to fanatics who foisted Prohibition on us. Time to stop acting like the clueless fanatics of last century, Larry.

And, no, you won’t be out of work when we finally wise up as a society. So don’t panic. You’ll still have a job. After all, this is the real world. There will still be … (wait for it) … real criminals out there for you to arrest. Pedophiles. Murderers. Thieves. Rapists.

It’s time for the smart people of our society to step up. Take action. Maybe we can show some of the special people how a civilized society respects its individuals and their inalienable rights.

Brian Ansorge



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