GMO labeling — again!

In a Tribune “Sound Off” letter on September 24, the Indiana Soybean Alliance and Indiana Corn Growers Association came out as strong advocates of HR 1599 (now in the Senate), the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act”. It is anything but that. These groups repeated almost word for word the message by the Indiana Farm Bureau in the Tribune on August 14. The message could well have been crafted by the same public relations department of any of several large chemical/seed companies, processed food producers or corporate agriculture. The message is misleading at best and lies at worst
They claim the World Health Organization, American Medical Association, the National Academy of Sciences and over 2,000 peer-reviewed studies, have concluded that “genetically modified foods are safe for human consumption”. They have done no such thing. There have been no long term human health studies conducted by independent researchers. Studies with research animals, mostly in other countries, have shown results for concern.
The Soybean Alliance and the Corn Growers go on to talk about the altering of crops and livestock over thousands of years in an attempt to lull us into the belief genetic engineering is no different than improvement by selection of the best plants or by hybridization. I assure you genetic engineering is nothing like either of these. Neither selection nor hybridization violates biological barriers that have existed since the origin of life. There is risk in doing that.
Then, pesticides. I challenge you to look at the use of the primary pesticide used on genetically engineered crops: glyphosate (commonly, Roundup). They claim pesticide use is down when it has skyrocketed. The World Health Organization has declared glyphosate to be a carcinogen (causes cancer). We spray that chemical all over the place on corn, soy beans, and more. In the near future, we are to be blessed with crops that can withstand 2,4,D and dicamba; even more toxic chemicals that follow the crop to the dinner table. A primary component of Agent Orange was 2,4,D. We know what that did to thousands of veterans.
The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act would void all action taken by any state to require labeling. It puts all authority into the hands of the Federal Drug Administration that has failed us already. To our detriment, decisions about genetically engineered crops and foods have been made by political appointees rather than FDA scientists. No food currently on the market would be required to be labeled. Labeling is required in 64 other countries, so it can be done. And there does not have to be a patchwork of food labeling laws. What is needed is for the federal government to require labeling of GMOs uniformly across the United States. It is the right of people to know what is in food and how it is produced. Secrecy is not the answer.
It is not the anti-GMO groups that are waging a misinformation campaign. It is big chemical/seed, corporate agriculture, and large food processors. Those that till the land will someday come to realize that.

Pathetic SAT Scores

Last week, the Tribune reported only 38.3 percent of Indiana’s Class of 2015 met college and career readiness benchmarks set by SAT. Further, they reported local educators say there are other factors besides SAT test scores that predict students’ post-secondary (that’s after high school) success. Nice try, but no prize.
There is only one word to describe Indiana student performance on the SAT and that is, “PATHETIC”. The responsibility for this horrible performance must rest at the feet of the teachers and administrators of our Indiana education system. Personally, I believe they have lost focus. The result is students are not ready for college or technical schools. Remedial classes, sometimes for no credit and always at some cost to the student, are required to get students ready for even introductory college level studies.
Why aren’t students prepared with math, language, and science skills? Maybe there has been too much time, money, and energy spent on things other than academics. Things like building new buildings and establishing “International Schools”. Things like huge, elaborate athletic complexes and untold hours practicing band and sports skills.
And, maybe, there are not enough hours in the classroom learning. I see students being dropped off of buses at 2:30 in the afternoon. Seems awfully early to me. I observe many school vacations during the year and months off in the summer. It appears that there are some students that spend way too many hours riding a bus rather than in class.
The result of the lack of success of students on SAT testing is that the can is kicked down the road. Universities and Trade Schools have to pick up the slack. Our high schools can say, “Oh, well. We tried”. This is unacceptable. This incredible near collapse of education is what has fueled the fires for Charter schools, other private schools, and home schooling. Those are not the answer. The answer is to take steps to cut away the chaff and bring focus back to the old “reading, writing, and arithmetic” of days gone by, then throw in science to top it off.
It is no wonder that many industries want to promote additional immigration of highly educated, highly skilled people. Our early education system is failing to produce enough graduates that go on to excel at the university level. Local educators can dance around all over the place, but the game of musical chairs stops with them still standing.