Your Views for September 7


GMO debate

I hope everyone has read the open letter by the associations of the papaya and banana growers, joined by the nurserymen and the cattlemen. I found their arguments very persuasive. Giving Rainbow papaya an exemption but banning all other genetically engineered (GE) crops simply does not make sense, and banning all GE crops doesn’t make sense either because it would prevent farmers from planting improved crops in the future. New invading insects and other plant pathogens arrive in Hawaii all the time, so new GE defenses may be needed in a hurry.

The safety of GE foods has been studied extensively, and the studies have been reviewed by a raft of scientists. These scientists are competent to comment on the manner in which the studies have been conducted and on the statistical analysis that was done, and if they find no fault there and then pronounce the GE food to be safe for humans, I am inclined to believe them.

Yet, you hear anti-GE fanatics say they will not eat these foods because “they contain pesticides.” Really? I had to do some reading about how these pest-resistant crops work. I learned that some of them have been made to incorporate a gene derived from a bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis — Bt for short, — that enables the plant to produce a protein which is very specifically toxic for certain Lepidoptera but harmless to most other insects and to humans. So you could call this protein a “natural pesticide.”

If you do some reading about natural defenses in plants and phytochemistry, you will discover a dizzying, magnificent array of complicated organic molecules that plants produce to protect themselves from insects and other invading pathogens. So, most of us have been consuming natural insecticides our whole life!

Bt has been used by organic farmers for years. They also recommend planting resistant varieties of certain crops, so logically one would assume that these resistant varieties have “engineered” themselves to produce some chemical defense. So, perhaps folks who are worried about pesticides in plants should stop eating them altogether or only eat the crops that are well chewed by insects or marred by fungi and viruses.

Adrienne S. Dey

Hilo

Slow down, people

I really hope you will please publish this! The speed limit has recently changed on Highway 130 at Shower Drive and Maku‘u Drive near Hawaiian Paradise Park. It went from 55 to 45, and now it is 35 mph for construction. This is not being followed by most drivers.

I try and go the posted speed limit. I get worried when people are tailgating me. Can’t they read? Don’t they know that 35 mph speed limit during the construction on the road is 24/7 — not just when people are working on the road?

Please do a front-page article on this, too. Maybe once they get a ticket, they will slow down.

Rita Sloan

Pahoa

 

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