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|August 27 - September 2, 2009 firstname.lastname@example.org
• See Jim Hightower
• Danish Plan
(Re: “GMOs and the Boulder County brand,” Danish Plan, July 30.) Paul, make no mistake, I am not being disingenuous. Yes, I object to all GMOs grown in Boulder County. They do not benefit consumers, but farmers and seed and herbicide suppliers. We never should have approved the growing of GMO corn in 2003. The application to the health care industry as vaccines, diagnostics tests and new drugs has proven to be a responsible and positive use of recombinant biotechnology. The DNA is not released to nature, and the benefits appear to far exceed the risks. The use of GMOs in agriculture is a great biological experiment with crops not contained in a lab and documented harmful contamination of crops such as maize in Mexico.
As for soy phytoestrogens, my review of the literature is that the benefits again far outweigh the risks, and the article you cited stated that the National Institutes of Health gave soy a “clean bill of health” for adults, but cautioned that the jury was still out for infant feeding, which would say that soy is “no scary scientific experiment.”
For full disclosure, yes, I do work for the natural and organic industry. I have worked for Kellogg’s and Kraft and prefer my work on natural and organic and its ability to change the world for the better.
Mary C. Mulry/via Internet
Paul Danish’s recent article in which he compared the drawbacks of genetically engineered food with soy products was a bad analogy. Soy products have been a significant food for thousands of years; GMO foods have only been eaten for about a decade.
Products that contain soy are labeled as such, so consumers who don’t want them can avoid them. Biotech companies have fought against labeling their products, so many consumers are unaware that they are ingesting them when they buy supermarket fare. Also, nutritionists can easily perform studies on soy products to determine their safety and benefits. According to Scientific American magazine, biotech companies have made independent research on their products legally perilous, so “it is impossible to verify that genetically modified crops perform as advertised.”
A better analogy to help us understand the risks of this unproven new technology would be to compare it to nuclear energy. In the beginning, nuclear technology was seen as a breakthrough that would lead to free energy in the future that would also be clean and safe. Unfortunately, free electricity was industry propaganda, and there have been several disastrous nuclear accidents around the world since then. Some early researchers in atomic physics like Marie Curie died of cancer caused by their naivety about the new technology, and since the advent of nuclear energy and weapons, cancer rates have skyrocketed worldwide. At one time, nuclear bombs were tested without regard to the health effects of the toxic fallout.
The point is, new technologies bring about unforeseen risks. For genetically modified foods, we should adopt the policy that Europe, the world’s oldest scientific establishment, has adopted: the Precautionary Principle. This places the burden of proof on the corporations, instead of the consumer — prove that the product is perfectly safe before placing it on the market.
I suggest Boulder County go one step further in improving its “organic brand.” Let’s ban GMO crops altogether until more research establishes that they won’t cause genetic contamination of other plants, won’t disrupt the complex relationships between plants and animals that maintain ecosystem health and are safe for people to consume in the long-term. If proof can’t be made, then the manipulation of life’s 5-billion-year-old operating code should be made illegal. In the meantime, let’s encourage organic farming, which we know is good for people and for the planet.
The health care debacle
(Re: “Obameter,” Aug. 20.) In your weekly “Obameter” chart of Aug. 20, you glibly state: “Bull! … What we really need, of course, is single-payer health care. Don’t let misinformed idiots and heath-care lobbyists confuse the issue.”
This is ridiculous. Arguing that single-payer (government run) health care will be cheaper and more efficient flies in the face of centuries of practical experience. True, if you stroll down the mall and ask people if they want “free” health care, they’ll say yes, but the fact remains that nothing is ever free. You pay for it with higher taxes, and everybody involved tries to pass the tab to someone else.
The media — and I include the Boulder Weekly in this — are blatantly ignoring the questions and complaints of regular citizens.
Elites within the media and the Democratic Party have been exploiting “Astroturf” campaigns for so long — better understood as well-funded, faux grassroots protesting — that they cannot distinguish between their own constituents and outraged Republicans and independents. The proof is contained within the president’s falling approval ratings and the rebellion of large swaths of Democratic elected officials. Also worth noting is the anger expressed almost universally across the country at town hall meetings. I can promise you that the RNC wouldn’t be able to pull off this kind of authentic frustration if they tried.
Just because the SEIU (union) thugs are pressing the Democrat agenda of government run/single-payer health care doesn’t mean that regular people don’t see the danger. They understand that unlike other issues, where dissent can be cathartic, here they face something that will impact their own families materially. They’re not fooled by claims that the government-run systems of Britain, Canada, and elsewhere don’t function by making health care for all but by making routine services extremely difficult to get.
All this has led me to wonder why the Obama administration would buck popular opinion and demands so transparently. The reason, and I say this reluctantly, is power. If you look at the countries of the European Union you will see that all are socialist to one degree or another. I believe that universal health care plays a role in this. Once a nanny-state government takes over health care, every election henceforth becomes a referendum on extracting the promised care, which is never really delivered. You get the same cries of an unwillingness to “fully fund” the programs that you have with education in this country. With disconnect between taxes and delivery of services, it becomes a recipe of forever escalating taxing and spending — and by extension the movement of the country toward socialism generally.
We have the best health care system in the world. It can be improved dramatically by capping damage awards at 500,000 dollars (tort reform), instituting government encouraged Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) where the patient pays for care out of a 5,000 dollar “bank” first, while tapping a catastrophic loss policy for big-ticket treatments (this makes patients consumers, instead of having them just ask, “Is it covered?” — see LASIK eye treatments as an example), allowing insurance providers to compete across state lines, requiring insurers to offer the same price to individuals as they do to big companies, offering standardized basic policies that don’t include open-ended, expensive treatments like mental health, and finally, precluding providers from “cherry picking” patients on the basis of pre-existing condition if they’re changing jobs or were laid off. This last item is tricky because you can’t create an incentive for people to avoid coverage until they need it, as that undermines the goal of diffused risk. These are the health-care reforms most Americans are looking for, and I believe your readers would agree.
Kevin Kelley/via Internet
Editor’s note: Single-payer health care is funded by the government, not run by the government. Care is still delivered by private physicians and hospitals on the private market. That is the definition of single-payer. According to the World Health Organization, the United States’ health-care system is nowhere near the best in the world. WHO ranked the U.S. system as No. 38, with the United Kingdom ranking No. 18 and Canada listed as No. 30. Who’s actually No. 1? Italy.
There is a small minority of citizens who oppose the current health-care plan being worked on. These people have been influenced by very vocal and well-orchestrated groups trying to derail anything President Obama is trying to do. They do not represent the majority of citizens. We need a government option in the plan. Without it, it will be business as usual with the insurance and pharmaceutical companies running things as they have been doing for a long time. I know someone who works two jobs, but has no insurance because he can’t afford it. A government plan would help people like him. The insurance companies are complaining they will lose business if we get a government plan. But if they adjust their prices, and stop paying CEOs big bonuses, they can still succeed and make a decent profit. They don’t need the inflated profits they have been earning.
Those who say, “Keep government out of my health care” and “Don’t let government tell me what kind of care I get” don’t seem to realize that right now the insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies are making decisions for them, not their doctors. And Medicare and Social Security are already government-run programs that I think most of those who oppose a government option for health care would not like to see stopped. Let’s set aside all the bitterness and really try to understand what Congress is trying to do to bring down health care costs and help those less fortunate have the coverage they need.
The basic Democrat plan to provide affordable health insurance by introducing a public option alongside for-profit insurers will allow capitalism to once again do its magic. Opponents of the initiative say that all government programs are riddled with inefficiencies and lack of ingenuity so with their “creative advantage” and claimed “projected cost savings” they should be able to compete very well. The winners will be American industries that, with lower health-insurance costs, will be able to compete more favorably with foreign countries where health insurance is usually less than half of what we are paying.
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