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A closer look at genetic engineering

In response to the story by Shawna Galassi ("Kernels of contention", Aug. 31) the following is of importance.

The panel appearing before the Board of Supervisors emphasized the concept of co-existence. One aspect of genetically modified or genetically engineered foods has remained conspicuously absent in the discussion.

This retired chemistry professor specializing in molecular basis of the universe, must remind, every time a reproduction takes place, that nature carries out genetic modification or genetic engineering.

Just because farming yields, say for corn, reproduced seeds in numbers approaching infinite, we tend to assume each seed is similar and worse, identical.

Not so.

Corn is the best example of nature's genetic engineering over the eons of this great food. Each new seed is unique, as is each newborn human. Nature has genetically modified or genetically engineered each of the new seeds harvested.

Yes, the laboratory modification or engineered process is accelerated and may result in seeds likely to have adverse effects on other kinds of crops. But, as every farmer knows even for crops never modified or engineered in the laboratory certain crops are not to be farmed side by side.

Supervisor Patterson's recommendation is obvious and the panel presenting the issue should have had it at the time of presentation.

Brahama D. Sharma

Pismo Beach



Local government should watch out for us
I am extremely disappointed by the decision of the SLO County Supervisors not to take any action to protect county consumers and farmers from genetically engineered crop contamination especially after the GE task force provided studies and recommendations indicating that the matter needs more investigation. It is clear that the federal and state government have no desire to protect us, but I was hoping that local government would be looking out for the best interests of the citizens of this county.

It is appalling to me that manufacturers of GE seeds have no obligation or even motivation to keep their technology inside their own boundaries. If a non-GE crop is contaminated by GE seeds, the farmer not only loses the seed stock he has worked so carefully to breed, he can be sued by the seed company for patent infringement.

As consumers, we have the right to know how our food is grown and what kind of seeds are used. BT corn and potatoes are registered with the EPA as pesticides. They should not be fed to our children. I want to be assured that when I buy organic, the food has not been contaminated by genetically engineered strains. Already, long grain rice and native grasses have been contaminated by GE strains that were not even approved for use. Once GE strains are introduced into the environment, they can never be recalled.

I wish our supervisors had voted in favor of sending a letter to state government protesting the ordinance SB 1056 that would prevent individual counties from banning GE crops. As more evidence becomes available about the health and environmental impacts of GE crops, we will have given away our only chance for local control.

It is now in the hands of the citizens. I urge you to call Abel Maldonado and Sam Blakeslee and tell them you want the right to decide whether GE crops should be grown in your county. We need to preserve our right to protect ourselves and our farmers. Vote with your wallets as well by buying from local farmers who don't grow GE crops.

Cathe Olson

Arroyo Grande


Tommy was a great guy
I knew Tom Bobrink ("Touching San Luis Obispo," Aug. 24) since my days working at SLO Maid Ice Cream in the early 1990s. I never had his phone number, never went to his house, but he was someone I could always count on for a bit of conversation on the street or over a drink at McCarthy's. Tommy was there the night I met my wife. In fact, he asked her out that night as well. He never failed to ask how she was after that night and after learning that we were expecting a baby, never missed a chance to ask how the pregnancy and later, the baby were doing. I will miss those conversations with Tommy. Thanks to Glen Starkey for the tribute to "regular guy" Tom Bobrink.

Patrick Mallon

San Luis Obispo



More on veterans
Dave Ciaffardini's letter ("Veterans' ocean visit should inspire pollution solutions," Aug. 24) spoke well of what should be done concerning the beach pollution, while writing about the disabled veterans who gave surfing a shot.

Now I would like to add two other things concerning those disabled veterans. The care and help they are receiving comes from donations, not from the VA or the government. Neither has made any concentrated or constructive effort to truly help these men and women. Once the veteran becomes proficient with the artificial limbs, they are cut loose and basically told to fight their own way through the system for further care. In short, that visit to the beach was the work of dedicated volunteers who apparently care more for our veterans than those who should.

Another example of disservice to our veterans comes from the Pentagon by way of the House and Senate versions of the defense appropriation bill. The Pentagon is asking for $7 million, that's $7 million less than what is currently budgeted, for the Veterans Brain Injury Center. Head wounds are so common in Iraq and Afghanistan that they are called signature injuries.

Congressional staffers could not get a straight answer from the Pentagon. And a spokesman for the U.S. Army Medical and Research Material Command said no one with the brain-injury center was allowed to comment on the budget.

And, if that isn't enough, try to see what the VA is up to.

Dave Troescher

Santa Maria



Dalidio offers a positive future
I have resided near Los Osos Valley Road for more than 20 years and have seen and experienced firsthand the increasing traffic congestion. And with the new car dealerships and development getting underway, the traffic is only going to get worse.

However, one of my favorite sayings is "Necessity is the mother of invention." We already need the east-west connection of Prado Road that is evident not only by the already crowded Madonna Road and Los Osos Valley Road overpasses, but also by the future airport expansion and Margarita Development. So, if the Prado Road overpass is a necessity, then the Dalidio Ranch Project is the invention. I believe that if this project is approved by the voters and goes forward, it will motivate and inspire new and innovative ideas for sources of the overpass funding, without displacing the funding priorities of nearby cities.

I recently heard someone use the phrase, "The best way to predict the future is to invent it." With that in mind, it is my belief that the Dalidio Ranch Project is a way in which we can shape a necessary and positive future for San Luis Obispo!

Cathie Babb

San Luis Obispo



Question Dalidio opposition
1. Traffic studies show the Madonna Road intersection failing by 2014 without Dalidio Ranch development. With the development, it fails by 2012. We are going to need this overpass without the development anyway.

2. The Dalidio Ranch portion of the Prado Road overpass is 23 percent, which will be funded by private not taxpayer bonds that are backed by the property. The Dalidios will tax themselves to get the overpass done.

3. The Dalidios have, over the last 15 years, provided two full environmental impact reports on this development. The four car dealerships on the adjacent property did not provide even a partial EIR, nor did they pay traffic impact and mitigation fees. Where were you, Save SLO, when that happened? Was it not also prime ag land surrounded by residential and commercial and a freeway?

4. The SLO City Council by majority passed an earlier version of the Dalidio project obtaining all of the elements they wanted. Then a small vocal minority backed by powerful downtown developer money spread many lies and got people upset and got a referendum to overturn the project. Why was that okay? And now it's wrong to have Measure J. It's hypocritical to claim foul now!

5. All of the elements within the current project are much better than the project approved by the city council because the Dalidios did listen to the people of the city and county, heard what they were concerned about, and did change the project to address their concerns.

6. The Downtown Association did in fact break the law (Brown Act) by taking a political stance on this project. Keep your eyes open to see what will become of this illegal activity. They said they didn't do it on purpose. Should we really believe that?

The next time you hear one of the lies about the Dalidio Ranch the opposition tells about this project, please question where they got that information, because when you look hard enough, you find that it is speculation, opinion, innuendo, and just plain made-up information (lies) told to you by the lying liars that tell them.

Ed Thoma

San Luis Obispo



Pops rocked
I have been to many rock-n-roll concerts at Avila Beach and must say that the most recent Pops Festival, sponsored by Mongo's Saloon (and others), was one of the best ever. The weather was beautiful and the whole production was a standard by which all those in the future will have to compare.

The artists were also some of the best who ever played there. As with all performances at Mongo's Saloon, after each performance, the artists came out from backstage to the Mongo's booth and signed autographs on their CDs and T-shirts and also posed for photographs with the concertgoers. I had photos taken with both John Mayall and Richie Havens two of my favorite artists from my youth. I was able to speak with John Mayall and Irene Kelley and had a lengthy conversation about Woodstock with Richie Havens.

I'd like to congratulate Mongo's Saloon and all the other sponsors for bringing us this great performance. It was truly a concert experience that I will never forget and look forward to what Mongo's Saloon will have in store for us next year.

Paul Mancini

Grover Beach




We used to live in the United States
The other day, my wife was asked for a thumbprint at a tanning salon in Grover Beach. She has been a regular at the salon for years, so this is a new requirement, and it surprised her. She elected not to provide one and was not allowed to tan!

She can get on a plane with just a driver's license, but she needs to provide a thumbprint to tan in Grover Beach! Last year, I was at the DMV, and they had a sign on the wall that basically said you need a permit from some department of some kind of security to legally deliver anything via a motor vehicle even a pizza. After watching the news this morning (wire taps, bank records, hotel records, airline records, even search engine criteria), I decided I wanted to toss out a big thank you to GWB for giving us all a taste of what it was like to live in Nazi Germany.

I agree that we were getting a little forgetful, but can we please go back to living in the United States of America now?

Shaun Harrington

Arroyo Grande


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