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Wednesday, July 30, 2008 01:55 am

Letters to the Editor

We welcome letters. Please include your full name, address, and telephone number. We edit all letters. Send them to Letters, Illinois Times, P.O. Box 5256, Springfield, IL 62705; fax 217-753-3958; e-mail editor@illinoistimes.com.

NO ENTHUSIASM FOR BIOTECH

After reading the "Bakers vs. wheat farmers" letter [Allen Skogen, July 10], I felt I had to comment.

Biotechnology has its place, but not in genetically modified foods. Recombinant bovine growth hormone was pushed on dairy farmers by Monsanto circa 1993 and was only tested for 90 days on 30 rats — never on humans. It was found that the hormone produces elevated levels of insulin-like growth factor, which in turn fosters diabetes in humans. It has also been linked to colon cancer and other cancers. In the fall of 1996, reporters Steve Wilson and Jane Akre did a series for the Fox affiliate in Tampa on rBGH. Fox execs received an ominous letter from Monsanto lawyers, promising "dire consequences" if the series aired. The reporters were subsequently offered money to leave the station, refused, and were fired. Many countries have banned the use of rBGH — not the United States.

Food from seeds containing herbicides and pesticides ends up in humans. On Oct. 31, 2000, Robert Sterling reported that a leaked Monsanto document credits the company's response team for developing "rapid responses to avoid overreaction to claims regarding . . . gene transfer to honey bees," referring to gene transfer from GM rapeseed to bacteria and fungi in the gut of the honeybees, detected by Professor Hans-Hinrich Kaatz from the Institut für Bienenkunde (Institute for Bee Research) at the University of Jena. This story was suppressed in the U.S.

Common sense, and some very well-known scientists, tells me the bakers were absolutely right to refuse such products. In fact, I would surmise the increase in cancer in the U.S. is directly related to these altered seeds. I would also surmise that the vanishing honeybee population and other beneficial insects is also directly related to these altered seeds. I have seen one honeybee this summer, and no ladybugs! However, the Japanese beetle population is thriving. This is not a good omen for the survival of beneficial insects, on up the food chain (birds and other insect-eating animals, and eventually humans).

I do not share Mr. Skogen's enthusiasm for biotechnology in agriculture. I would agree, however, that small farms and their farmers need a fair return on their investment. Organic products are finally becoming popular because the large commercial farms are producing food that is genetically modified, hothouse grown, and/or contains pesticides, herbicides, and less and less nutrition. Unfortunately, only the reasonably well-off population is able to afford healthy food, due to high prices. Nevertheless, the farmers producing organic crops, free of chemicals, are reaping pretty good profits.

The above information is just the tip of the iceberg for the failing health of Americans. High-fructose corn syrup or sugar is in almost every processed product on grocery shelves: ketchup, yogurt, peanut butter (sugar is the second ingredient in a well-known brand), and on and on. Grocery stores have become virtual landmines of diseases.
Sharry Vickers
Chatham

WHEN JUSTICE IS IGNORED

In reference to the story about the Karyn Slover case, I find that much too often in our hurry to get ahead in life we have a tendency to ignore facts and replace them with self-interest to promote our own agenda [see Dusty Rhodes, "Glimmer of hope," July 17]. When overzealous prosecutors begin putting their political ambitions before the responsibilities of their elected or appointed office, it is a sure bet that Murphy's Law, not the law, will take precedence.

Here in Illinois we have had scores of cases in which an appropriate investigation of the evidence could have resulted in a different outcome altogether. I do not know the Slovers, nor am I advocating their innocence or guilt. Nevertheless, I do question the ethics of those who not only ignore the facts but omit them as well.

The prosecutors are not totally at fault here. The defense attorneys and judges should also share a portion of the blame for neglecting their roles and duties to society and the system. If a prosecutor discovers that he or she has evidence to exonerate a defendant, he or she should be pleased and recognized and praised for stellar efforts in seeking justice. Instead, so bent on racking up convictions for political gain, all ethics and justice be damned.

Just think of the hundreds of people on all sides of this issue: those who have lost their loved one and those wrongly accused. The biggest tragedy, I can only imagine, would fall on those who have to relive this terrible nightmare and wonder, "Who really did it, and are they are still lurking around?" What was once closure instead becomes ambiguity and anger.

Ronnie Booth

Springfield

CLOSE PAYDAY-LOAN LOOPHOLES

In the three years since meaningful payday-loan reform was enacted in Springfield, loopholes in the law have been exposed that must be fixed in the interest of both consumers and responsible members of the payday-loan industry [see R.L. Nave, "The payday loan trap," April 10].

After the 2005 Payday Loan Reform Act, some lenders moved away from certain short-term loans covered under the act in favor of medium-term loans not covered by it. Market pressures forced others to align their product offerings with those of competitors to remain in business.

We are working this summer with legislative leaders and consumer advocates to pass meaningful legislation to protect consumers while keeping the industry viable in a regulated environment. As a driving force in the passage of the 2005 Payday Loan Reform Act, members of the Community Financial Services Association know we must stay committed to keeping the product safe from predatory practices, but we must also come to a middle ground that is fair to borrowers and lenders alike.

In tough economic times, many working families need access to short-term cash to help bridge difficulties — let's be certain it is in a well-regulated and fair environment for all, with the same playbook for everyone in the industry.

Mike Waters

Community Financial Services Association

Alexandria, Va.

TIME TO PLOW THE AIRPORT?

Numerous headlines lauded the arrival of a "new carrier" to central Illinois airports over the last four or five years, only to have a smaller follow-up headline, six to nine months later, announcing the new carrier's departure [because] it failed to attract enough passengers.

Locally the city of Springfield subsidizes Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport to the tune of $5 million annually. This subsidy, along with whatever the state and federal governments kick in, needs to end. Stop extending runways and making improvements, and follow industry trends.

Springfield, Peoria, Bloomington, Decatur, Champaign, and the Quad Cities all have airports draining municipal, state, and federal tax dollars for basically the same fliers or customers.

A few of the many possible solutions are: one regional airport with transportation hubs in the others or all transportation hubs with ground transportation to St. Louis, Chicago, or Indianapolis. There are many possibilities that make much more economic sense than the current system.

Set egos aside and respond to what the users, fliers, and customers have been trying repeatedly to tell you: We do not want, need, or use the service you provide at the current price.

Springfield's previous airstrips or airports are or have been cornfields, and with corn at $7 a bushel the current airport may have a higher and better use.

Greg Kruger

Springfield

WHAT WE LEARNED FROM TONY SNOW

The tragic death of former White House press secretary Tony Snow has many people wondering what they can do to prevent colorectal cancer. A simple change in diet can help reduce the risk of this and other deadly diseases.

According to the American Cancer Society, "A diet high in fat, especially fat from animal sources, can increase the risk of colorectal cancer." The National Cancer Institute reports that foods that are "high in fat and calories and low in fiber" can cause colorectal cancer.

Meat and dairy products have absolutely no fiber but plenty of fat and calories; plant-based foods, on the other hand, are low in saturated fat and calories and packed with fiber and other essential nutrients. You can beat colorectal cancer and other diseases by eating a wholesome, humane vegan diet. See www.GoVeg.com for more information and a free vegetarian starter kit.
Heather Moore
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Norfolk, Va.

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