Saturday | November 18, 2017
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Letters 11-13-13

Most of the food we eat has been modified in some way

I have been reading the letters to the editor concerning the genetically modified organisms controversy with interest and alarm. I have a doctorate in genetics and am constantly amazed at the hysteria that has developed over GM crops.

As has been pointed out by knowledgeable scientists, genetically modified crops have been around for centuries. Almost all the crops and plants we eat have been genetically modified by breeding. For example, apples for flavor and resistance to scab and many other diseases, corn for smut, wheat for resistance to many diseases, drought and shorter straw so it does not lodge, just to name a few. The list is endless.

Norman Borlaug won a Nobel Prize in 1970 for the “Green Revolution,” which allowed poor counties such as Mexico to become net exporters of wheat instead of importers. He was able to do this because of wheat varieties that were genetically modified through breeding methods to be more productive and resistant to disease. Many of the varieties he used were developed by scientists at Washington State University where I studied.

Sharon Smockhoffmann


Mahalo for a great Ironman experience

I just got back home from Kona and miss it already. I have volunteered at Ironman since 2003. I go to lots of events and the Ironman is hands down the best. Every year, I’m amazed at how the race gets better every time I visit. This year was no exception.

After the Boston Marathon, everyone was on edge. We all spoke of it but only briefly. No one wanted to really say it out loud. The newspapers mentioned it, the volunteers knew about it, the racers asked about it, but in the end we all just hoped they would keep us safe. And they did.

Not knowing what to expect, my friends and I knew things would be different. The no bag rule, that was new. Totally understandable. Totally expected. The credentialing was cool, easy and online. The nondescript people meandering around looking in places with purpose only eased our anxiety. The police cruising Alii Drive keeping an eye out blended into the people nicely. We had fun picking out “5-0” vs. tourist. They all looked alike. Most people didn’t think about it, unless they remembered and looked around, noticed the guy in a T-shirt with the ear piece, smiled and then went back to cheering again. We were comforted they were there.

I know the safety preparations must be exhausting. But to do it in a way no one sees them and still keeps Kona “Kona,” that’s got to be hard. I know there’s more to this than we can see. There has to be. I saw the dogs sniffing around, the guys in security shirts everywhere. You just felt relieved they had a handle. I sat next to a guy on the plane back home. He shared similar stories.

Hats off to all the people who kept a watchful eye on us all week long. To the race organizers that make this the only place on Earth to be in October. To the great people of Kona who open their town to a bunch of international strangers who feel like family when we leave. And finally to the volunteers who love to be a part of the Ironman. Great job and see you next year. I can’t wait to see what’s improved.

Andrew Menzes

San Pedro, Calif.