Letters to the editor – January 30, 2014

ONE-SIDED STORY DISAPPOINTING

After reading “North America called out of step with rest of world on GM food” by Barb Glen (WP Jan. 2), I felt it was unfortunate that no one was called upon to represent the other side.

These people continue to fuel the fear of genetic modification technology in spite of the fact that regulating bodies around the world, including the European Academies Science Advisory Council, Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, have determined that genetically modified crops are as safe as conventional crops.

This is not “ignorance and industry propaganda,” as Mark Benson claims in the article. More than 1,500 re-search studies have said the same thing. There really shouldn’t even be a debate about this anymore.

Thierry Vain, retired from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, is now an organic farmer on the west coast of Canada.

He is on the speaking circuit against GM technology. Every argument that he uses has been dismissed by the experts.

Unbelievably, he still talks about Gilles-Eric Séralini as if he is a respectable scientist, even though Séralini’s flawed research using rats as test subjects has been thrown out as junk science, retracted by publisher Elsevier from its Food and Chemical Toxicology journal, and officially withdrawn.

Vrain’s arguments against genetic modification are based on logical fallacies, not science: the “appeal to nature” fallacy that says nature is always good; the “appeal to antiquity,” or assuming that something is better or correct simply because it is older or traditional; along with the “correlation proves causation” argument.

And of course, anyone who counters him is dismissed as an “industry shill,” which instantly shuts out any chance for reasonable debate.

Genetic modification is an important, effective and safe tool that should be available to more scientists. GM technology can do a great deal of good: It allows for zero-till agriculture, which not only reduces soil erosion, but also captures a significant amount of carbon in the soil; reduces the amount of pesticide required; and can increase nutrients in foods, especially important in developing countries where politics make fair distribution of food difficult.

Study after study has proven that there is nothing to fear and much to gain. It is time that we start listening to the real experts and questioning the motives of those so vehemently against the technology.

Jackie Robin,
communications director
Ag-West Bio Inc.
Saskatoon, Sask.

RICH IN CHARACTER

Re: Man of many hats lured by quest for perfect bull (WP, Nov. 28)

What a heartwarming article concerning Wayne and Charles Fipke.

With the character, resiliency and diversity that these gentlemen displayed, even when young students in their colorful careers, their parents certainly prepared them well for their future endeavours. They were taught creativity and organizational skills from the very beginning.

I do not think they were poor by any stretch of the imagination, but they were raised without a lot of money. There is a difference.

Margaret E. Mitchell, DVM
Westerville, Ohio

EDUCATORS DESERVE ANSWERS

Seemingly Don Morgan, Saskatchewan minister of education, has decided P3s, private for profit corporate bundling plan for building schools, are acceptable.

Little respect (is) shown for: a consultative process with education stakeholders or a former minister who decided P3s too expensive; school boards’ complaints and alternate ideas; concerns of construction industry, other companies and workers who fear losing jobs and contracts to out-of-province companies.

P3s engage companies-corporations to finance, design, build, own and then lease to government for use of schools and services. When a 30-year lease is up, the corporation owns the schools that public taxpayers paid expensive leases for and so contributed to profits of shareholders.

Future generations inherit these costs. Isn’t this a misappropriation of taxpayer dollars?

Governments of, for and by the people are elected to provide, via taxes, public schools and education for our precious students. Education isn’t a commodity to provide shareholders’ profits.

Haven’t our numerous education ministers researched the pitfalls experienced by other jurisdictions: lack of transparency, quality, efficiency, competition and the high cost of private borrowing.

(Premier Brad) Wall’s (government) had seven boom years plus $1.3 billion left in GR from the Calvert government and time to plan the building of schools.

Wall hired John Black’s U.S. giant corporation for homeland security to overhaul medicare and introduce lean initiatives, whose managers oversee health-care workers.

The plan is to have Dan Florizone introduce lean initiatives in education; again, top down approach lacking consultation with stakeholders. Educators, in charge of our children’s education, deserve answers from this government.

Joan Bell,
Saskatoon, Sask.

NEPOTISM FLOURISHING

Re: the recent announcement eliminating door-to-door delivery for urban residents and the massive postal rate increases by Canada Post.

President and CEO Deepak Chopra repeatedly pointed out it was a Conference Board of Canada recommendation — a private research organization of which Chopra is a member.

Chopra claims 66 percent of Canadians currently get mail at community mailboxes, when in reality only 25 percent do, while 33 percent get door-to-door, 25 percent by apartment lobby mailboxes, 12 percent general delivery and five percent at rural mailboxes — 2012 Canada Post report.

At a special emergency meeting of the transport committee, when questioned by MPs as to how the elderly will be especially hard hit by the loss of home delivery, Chopra had the audacity to state that seniors have told the corporation they want more exercise and fresh air offered by community mailboxes.

Chopra was placed as CEO of Canada Post by Stephen Harper and draws a salary of between $440,900 and $518,600 with a “guesstimated” bonus of 33 percent.

Apart from Chopra, there are 22 presidents and vice-presidents, each with their mouths wide-open waiting for bloated handouts. This small group of top management accounts for $10 million in salaries alone — not to mention their perks and bonuses.

Many of the 22, along with Chopra, were placed by Harper as a favour to his Conservative buddies who failed to get into their ridings. Nepotism is alive and flourishing under the Harper government.

Joyce Neufeld,
Waldeck, Sask.

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