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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Mail Bag

    BIO5’s solutions unacceptable

    Wednesday’s Arizona Daily Wildcat reported on an event, of which I was a participant and organizer, related to the opening of the BIO5 Institute today. Our event challenged the claims made by BIO5 and other biotechnology advocates that this technology is necessary to feed the world, save the environment and cure disease. Our event spoke to social and political causes of hunger, environmental degradation and disease, such as international trade policies that undermine small farmers and intellectual property rights that prevent needed drugs being produced cheaply. We applaud BIO5’s concern with problems like hunger. Our disagreement is over the best means of addressing them. BIO5 advocates technical fixes like genetically modified crops as the best, and in fact the only, solution. We feel this is a simplistic, reductionist and narrow approach to complex social problems, one that will not succeed.

    A concrete example can elucidate this. The funding agency for BIO5’s research on the cassava plant is the U.S. Department of Energy, whose interest isn’t food for the poor, but a feedstock for producing ethanol. We question how this will feed the hungry given that, if successful, it is likely to transfer cassava from the mouths of Africans into the gas tanks of Americans.

    We read in yesterday’s Wildcat article that “”(biotechnology) is controversial mostly in countries where the population is well-fed.”” This is incorrect. The biggest struggles about this technology have been in the Global South. Argentine and Brazilian farmers are resisting the massive conversion of farmland and forests for GM soybeans and heavy sprayings of herbicide. In Southern Mexico, there is widespread denunciation of the contamination of indigenous corn by GM varieties. In India, after millions of farmers organized against GM cotton following catastrophic crop failures, several states have banned it. Zambia refused to accept U.S. food aid contaminated with GM corn in 2002, despite strong American arm-twisting. Where biotechnology is most prevalent, the United States, is in fact where public debate and understanding is most lacking. This is why we are acting to foster such a debate in Tucson with and about BIO5.

    Brian Marks
    group on social aspects of biotechnology,
    geography and regional development
    graduate student

    Book buy-back prices pitiful

    Turn your books in! It is nearing the end of the semester and you won’t need those old books anymore. Don’t expect to get much for your books, though. Those books that you spent a premium price for are now almost worthless. A $56 dollar book that was required for English 101 is taken back for only $5 to $8! It angers me that the book I returned for $8 will be resold for nearly five times the price in the spring. The bookstores make a lot of money by doing this, and the students who pay for their books with their own paychecks are angry as well. Books should be resold for less than twice the amount that they are taken back for. I understand the bookstores need to make money, but they make a lot of money with the rest of the store. They could at least give the students a quarter of what the book was worth when purchased!

    Matt Martin
    pre-pharmacy freshman

    FOX news fair, balanced

    I was appalled to read the letter “”Murdoch’s stations should be boycotted”” in Tuesday’s mailbag criticizing the Fox News channel. In my humble opinion, Fox News is the only news organization that can be trusted to provide a fair and balanced report on politics and current events. For the most part, Fox’s political shows feature a panel of political experts, half of the conservative point of view and half of the liberal point of view. For example, the program “”Special Report with Brit Hume”” regularly features a panel of political pundits, including Fred Barnes of the conservative Weekly Standard magazine, Mort Kondracke, a widely respected moderate, and Mara Liasson of the liberal National Public Radio. The show “”Hannity and Colmes”” provides debate between Sean Hannity, a strong conservative, and Alan Colmes, an ultra-liberal.

    After watching these experts debate issues, I always feel I have gotten a fair assessment of the situation and can make my own decision on how I feel about the issues. It is no wonder that nine of the top 10 highest-rated cable news programs air on the Fox News channel. Fair and balanced reporting is nearly nonexistent on other networks, and Americans have finally found a network they can trust. Take for example NBC’s “”Meet the Press.”” One can almost see the liberal bias oozing from the mouth of the show’s host, Tim Russert. On ABC’s “”This Week,”” host George Stephanopoulos, former communications director for the Clinton administration, regularly gives “”preferential treatment”” to Democratic guests while grilling their Republican colleagues.

    It is a widely accepted fact that the media has a strong liberal bias. One would be hard-pressed to find someone who would disagree with that assertion. I find it ironic that the very person who crucified Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News Channel, for being “”immoral”” chose to label him with hateful rhetoric such as “”ulcer-infested propagandist rat”” and “”scumbag”” and even provided justification for his assassination by the dissenting British media. Now that’s a person of strong moral conviction if I ever saw one! Do us all a favor. If you’re going to claim the moral high ground on an issue, at least practice what you’re preaching.

    Ry Ellison
    pre-physiology freshman

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