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The Right to Choose
It was somewhat disturbing to read Henry Miller’s Perspective column on “Biotech Offers (Baby) Food for Thought” in the August 2005 issue of Food Technology. While he made several viable points relative to choice, he does so while taking away our right to choose non-GM technology, production methods, and foods. Do we not have this right?
I respect Miller’s opinion and especially those of my fellow producers and food manufacturers who for whatever reason choose to use various forms of biotechnology—whereas I choose not to. It is important not to use inaccurate information, fear, or negative statements relative to our U.S. food systems (there is more than one system), whether your choice is GMO foods or certified organic. What is wrong with choice?
Those of us who choose to farm or produce food without GM technology produce highly nutritious, safe, and healthy foods of choice. We use appropriate proactive technologies and approved materials to control pest and disease, and process our foods—our yields and products are competitive—and yes they cost more for the right reasons. We internalize-the-externalities the real cost of food into our prices.
Those of us who do not choose GM technology are not selling out to or making amends with extremists. We are simply exercising our freedom of choice, and I do get worried when professionals like Miller support only one choice for all American farmers, food manufacturers, and consumers.
—Thomas B. Harding, President, AgriSystems International, Wind Gap, Pa.
Author Miller replies
There is a broad consensus— extending even to highly risk-averse European regulators—that the precision and predictability of gene-splicing enhance the safety of foods made from gene-spliced plants. The imprecision of conventional plant breeding, especially with techniques such as irradiation mutagenesis and wide crosses, has given rise to new plant varieties with unacceptable toxicity. Examples include two varieties each of squash and potato, and one of celery.
Plant biologists are well along in the development of gene-spliced peanuts, soybeans, wheat, and other crops in which the genes coding for allergenic proteins have been silenced or removed. Once these products are commercially available, agricultural processors and food companies that do not use these food sources may be vulnerable to liability lawsuits.
—Henry I. Miller, The Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.
IFT’s Contribution to Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts
IFT has recently been inundated with heartwarming correspondence from many of you expressing concern for our members and the thousands of victims devastated by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. IFT joins millions of people across the country in our ongoing concern for all victims of Hurricane Katrina and the devastation to our host and partner city of New Orleans. We believe it is essential at this time to reach out to our Magnolia and Louisiana Gulf Coast members in particular. After consultation with those IFT members directly affected by Hurricane Katrina, IFT is offering resources and continuous support to our members in each of the following ways:
• To assist our local members, we invite you to join IFT in donating funds to the American Red Cross (www.redcross.org or 800-HELP NOW), specifying that your contribution is made in support of local chapters within Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. To review a comprehensive list of local disaster-area chapter listings, visit the home page of www.ift.org.
• IFT needs your support in identifying and/or offering temporary, part-time or full-time employment opportunities for those IFT members who have been displaced by this recent tragedy. Please e-mail Nora Schabold, IFT Online Career Center at [email protected] to learn more about how you can provide a valuable job posting.
• For a comprehensive listing of charitable organizations, including the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, and Second Harvest, visit the home page of www.ift.org.
In addition, IFT is extending free relief aid, including IFT membership renewal, to those members located in the affected disaster areas. This aid will be processed immediately and in concert with the Management Committee on Membership Experiences. For further information about IFT relief aid, please e-mail Joan Finn at [email protected].
We also recognize and thank many of our members that have already sent food donations through Second Harvest or other agencies that are equipped to handle large quantity donations. It is evident that continued assistance will be needed long after the press coverage ends. We will stay in contact with local disaster-area IFT members to assist in meeting the individual funding needs as they are identified. Thank you.
—Margaret A. Lawson, IFT President
Editor’s note: This letter was e-mailed to nearly 20,000 members of IFT on September 12, 2005. IFT received a warm response to Lawson’s call to help members who have lost their livelihood as a result of Hurricane Katrina.
More than 25 employers across the nation contacted IFT almost immediately with employment opportunities and inquiries on how they can help. Information given by the employers was forwarded via e-mail directly to our members in the affected region. We are very grateful for the generosity of our employers for making this possible.
To further enable employers and displaced members to connect, the IFT Career Center is offering special discount pricing and the ability to flag job postings as “Katrina” positions, as well as ability for job seekers to flag themselves as “Katrina” victims.