Letters | GMO questions persist


GMO questions persist

(Re: “Behind the GMO curtain,” cover story, Dec. 15.) Thanks for the article on GMOs and recent Boulder County meeting. I’m hoping you can answer a question for me that was prompted by the Monsanto rep’s comments at the end of your article. Lisa Drake explained that the company does not regularly sue farmers for having Monsanto GMO product in their produce as a result of drift.

A recent Camera article referred to a 1999 Monsanto lawsuit against a Canadian farmer for drift. The article mentioned that there were others who had been sued for pollen drift, and that they joined with additional people who are liable to be sued for drift to put forth a class action suit against Monsanto.

Do you know how many people/farms Monsanto has sued for drift? Is there any documentation on how many farmers/ farms claim they have been threatened with a lawsuit for drift?

Could a drift lawsuit be considered a “pre-emptive” strike against farmers, to make them afraid of complaining about drift, or trying to sue Monsanto for drift?

Combine Monsanto’s ability to spend a farmer into the ground in court, with Monsanto’s precedence of a drift lawsuit win, and taking Monsanto on for GMO drift becomes a daunting task for most any farmer.

I wouldn’t mind seeing more in the Boulder Weekly on the “explanations” made by Lisa Drake.

Ceal Ruffing/Boulder

Editor’s note: Monsanto officials say the company has only filed suit against farmers 145 times since 1997, and they add that this is a small number considering they sell seeds to 250,000 farmers. Of those suits, 11 went to trial, and Monsanto won all of them.

For over six months the public has been silent observers of advisory groups formulating policy recommendations for open space GMOs. The Cropland Policy Advisory Group, e.g., sat at the front of a very large room, backs toward the citizens, without identification and often without amplification. Citizen-friendly?

Thursday night, Dec. 8, was the big chance for public input to the decision makers, the three commissioners. A huge conference room was filled to overflow. County residents were forced into the hallway, unable to see or hear. Despite signing up to speak for a three-minute slot, many residents never got to the mic. An unfortunate side effect of public involvement?

Surprise! A Monsanto rep from St. Louis gets nine minutes to sing the praises of GMOs. So did other folks, from as far away as Maryland. (Some clever GMO folks figured out how to “pool” time into nine-minute slots, while the rest of us thought we were limited to three minutes.) Non-locals attended for free, sat in our taxpayer-funded chairs, spoke into our taxpayer-funded mic, effectively blocking local residents from participating in the resolution of our vital concerns.

This is unacceptable. We elect county officials, we pay county staff. Wholesale silencing of the public must end. We need more communication, participation, hearts and minds to solve our very real problems. Consolidating power will not lead to creative and efficient solutions. It will also not lead to anything resembling democracy, of which we obviously have a deficit.

Boulder welcomes people from other places with open arms — as visitors and tourists. It has to stop there. No outsider should ever again be allowed to prevent one of our neighbors from exercising his or her civic duties and rights.

Perhaps a day will come when Boulder County won’t be known just for our “open space,” but for our “open government” as well.

Carah Wertheimer/Boulder

More on dog shelter

I am writing in response to Elizabeth Miller’s Nov. 10 story about the Humane Society of Boulder Valley and their work with Sawyer, an Akbash dog (“Surviving shelters,” cover story).

I no longer live in Boulder, but I was a volunteer at the HSBV for four years and am familiar with their positive treatment of the animals in their care, their employees, volunteers and professional partners. I am flabbergasted by the slant of Ms. Miller’s article and the apparent need to stir up controversy about an organization that is known throughout Colorado and most of the nation for trend-setting and doing good. The insinuation that the work being done at HSBV is somehow elitist, self-serving or exclusionary is absurd.

I would have liked to have seen more information about how CEO Lisa Pedersen has been working to create strong alliances with many local rescues and regional shelters that allow an increase of animals to be adopted in this incredibly dog-friendly region of the Rocky Mountains. I would have liked to have seen more praise of an exceptional rehoming/release rate of 91 percent (Compared with the 46 percent of released dogs in Los Angeles, where I now live). I would have liked Ms. Miller to discuss the incredible pool of employees and volunteers who make both the Boulder and Longmont facilities shining examples of positive reinforcement training and behavior modification programs. To lead a story with a sensationalized photo and title is nothing short of tabloid media and in an age of bad news and sad stories — couldn’t Ms. Miller have seen the 30,000-foot view that there are amazing local rescues working in conjunction with HSBV to create positive outcomes? Animal rescue is difficult enough without creating unnecessary villains and polarizing people who are all trying to do the right thing. The work being done along the Front Range on behalf of all the ani mals is exemplary and really needs to be championed rather than maligned.

I applaud the small rescue groups and their dedication and thank goodness for the tireless work that goes on behind the scenes of most adoptions. Let’s celebrate that both Sawyer the Akbash and Trill the puggle have additional options to facilitate their finding a forever home. Let’s celebrate and tell the story that Boulder and Longmont have an incredibly dedicated and positive network of rescues and devotees working to channel animals into the perfect home. Let’s celebrate and praise the four-legged survivors who remain loving and adoptable, because isn’t that truly what we are all working towards?

Jill Overdorf/Redondo Beach, Calif.

I have been peripherally involved with Boulder Humane through another rescue and that experience has led me to stay away. I am a trainer in Wyoming, and now have my own rescue, so I am very familiar with protocol and the politics of the rescue world. I’ve worked with Janet Davis on pulling the Akbash from shelters, so I know she is not an unreasonable person. I have worked with Em Wolf too, and she is reputable. I am a small independent rescuer who operates much like Janet Davis does. My experience two years ago with Boulder Humane was just as bad as her recent one.

As a trainer, my rescue focuses on animals with behavioral challenges that limit adoptability. Two years ago (prior to my own rescue), I received a frantic call from another rescue in Wyoming. They had taken a difficult dog to Boulder Humane, under the assumption she would receive the training she needed, but she was deemed unadoptable after Boulder accepted her. It was the week of Thanksgiving, and the rescue had been given 12 hours to pick the dog up or she would die, despite bad weather and distance to travel to get her. Because of the holiday, temporary fosters were impossible to find and Boulder refused to budge on the deadline. My travel was 300 miles round trip in some of the worst weather I have ever encountered. It took me over 10 hours to make a trip that is normally just over five. I received a dog whose life proved worth the drive and the effort, and who excelled in my program.

Unfortunately, the rescue did not have a foster equipped to continue her rehabilitation. They decided to try Longmont Humane’s program. I agreed that if it did not work out for her I would adopt her myself, because she was a lovely dog, just confused and in need of some clear boundaries and consistency on her training. She was accepted there, successfully completed their program and has been adopted! I believe that Boulder Humane has potential, but they have plenty of growth yet to achieve. Boulder sets the standard for most of the nation on many issues; unfortunately Boulder Humane continues to miss the boat on this one.

Christi Chapman, Canine Learning Center/Rawlins, Wyo.

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