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Protests Over GM Foods

June 28, 2003

Regarding President Bush's admonition of European countries and their refusal to buy or eat mutant foods, "Sharp Talk on Biogenetics" (June 24) states, "While U.S. consumers have generally accepted gene-altered foods...." Please be advised that this is a patently false statement. Given the choice of altered foods versus nonaltered foods, U.S. consumers overwhelmingly choose nonaltered foods, which is exactly why the bioengineering and irradiation industries spent a large fortune to suppress legislation requiring appropriate labeling. They even went so far as to make illegal labeling stating that a product did not contain bioengineered food, for all intents and purposes removing any clear choice that U.S. consumers might have had.

At this time the only two avenues to avoiding mutated food available to consumers in the U.S. is to contact each and every company that produces the food they buy to inquire whether it contains genetically altered material -- or buy organic. Given the fact that sales of organic products have skyrocketed in the years following the unleashing of unnecessarily altered food on the market, and the large protests against the bioengineering conference covered the same day, it is obvious that U.S. consumers would choose to buy unaltered food if they could easily know where it was. The very fact that Bush feels compelled to force our mutated produce down the throats of Third World countries to keep profits up proves only one thing: The only difference between U.S. and European consumers is that here in America our lawmakers are so handily in the pockets of large corporations that the will of the public no longer matters in making government policies.

June Gerron

Orange

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According to the caption of an accompanying photo in "Protesters Quietly Decry 'Frankenfood' " (June 24), "Protesters believe that genetically modified foods present a health risk, and that they are being foisted on Third World countries in the interest of profits." What is a greater health risk, no food or genetically altered food? A much better idea, of course, is to let people in Third World countries starve to death!

This nation and the industrialized nations of the world bend over backward in futile attempts to rescue Third World nations from themselves. Almost two decades ago, comedian Sam Kinnison suggested that, instead of sending food to these people, we should send them U-Hauls, to move them from the desert to "where the food is." These protesters could help with relocation efforts.

Michael J. Allegretti

Chatsworth

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Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and Bush are touting genetically modified crops as the answer to world hunger, yet the U.S. was the only country that cast a "no" vote on the U.N. Human Rights Commission in 2000 in regard to whether "the right to food" should be an official human right.

How is hunger alleviated when some allege that there is reduced yield with planting genetically modified soybeans and corn? How is hunger alleviated when most GM crops are fed to livestock? How is hunger alleviated when mostly genetically modified corn subsidized by U.S. taxpayers floods Mexico and results in the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of family farmers?

Let's be more concerned about assuring nutritious food for the hungry instead of bullying other countries, including through the World Trade Organization, and promoting the dominance of global agriculture by a few chemical/biotech/seed companies led by the well-connected but ailing Monsanto.

Bruce Campbell

Los Angeles

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