AGRICULTURE commentary

Control Data reference was off the mark

Bonnie Blodgett ("Agriculture's deal with the dark side," Nov. 24) makes a misleading comment by saying "Job-creating tech start-ups like Control Data (which would shortly go bust) were the big story back then." I'm not sure when "back then" was, but she makes it sound like the company must have lasted all of a year or two, when it actually started up in 1957, thrived through the early 1980s and survived nearly 40 years into the '90s, employing as many as 80,000 of us worldwide at its peak, injecting hundreds of millions of dollars annually for many years into the Twin Cities economy selling products and services throughout the world.


• • •

Full marks to the Star Tribune and to Blodgett. We have industrialized agriculture to produce outcomes that favor the corporate interests over and above public health, food safety and environmental concerns. A few companies like Monsanto profit handsomely at the public expense. Genetically modified organisms are present in many if not most processed foods, yet corporations fight aggressively to avoid even labeling these products.

Surveys show overwhelmingly that people want to know what they are eating. Why not label? It will cost money, and companies fear they will lose sales. Independent studies show that GMOs have not reduced the need for fertilizer and pesticides as promised, and there are alarming concerns about potential health effects. Colin Tudge wrote in the Independent Science News: "The real point behind GMOs is to achieve corporate/big government control of all agriculture … and this will be geared not to general well being but to the maximization of wealth."

TOM THISS, Excelsior

• • •

Yes, indeed, genetically modified seeds are a dark side to modern agriculture. Even darker is the treatment of farm animals — for example, gestation crates for mother pigs, excessive use of chemicals, unwholesome food supply for the animals, confined conditions and terrorizing transport to "harvest." We can do better — now, not later.



Give public credit for understanding scrutiny

I've been following the series about nurses who keep their jobs even after repeated abuses and am baffled by the vitriolic response to those articles because they supposedly shed a bad light on all nurses ("Nurses union calls series of reports a 'smear campaign'," Nov. 21). Does that mean we should not point out police brutality because it will make all police officers look bad? Or report fraudulent charities because it will undermine the good most are doing?

For those who are offended, do you deny that these accusations are correct? Do you want them swept under the carpet because offending some in the profession is worse than the damage they are doing to their patients? Simply writing it off as "they have a disease" does not excuse what's been happening.

Are we supposed to stop reporting all crimes and abuses of power because it might offend others and potentially taint an entire group? As for the last argument, let's hope the public has enough sense to realize that abuses happen in all professions and that no industry or profession should be beyond scrutiny for fear of offending the whole.

PAM POMMER, Bloomington


Editorial Board wrongly disrespects faculty

The Star Tribune's Nov. 24 editorial ("A job-friendly course is right for MnSCU") misrepresented — and even appeared to threaten — state university faculty.

"But MnSCU's faculty should understand that they share a mission to serve Minnesota, in institutions that are accountable to the public," the Editorial Board wrote. "If they prove unwilling to take steps of MnSCU's choosing to better meet the state's workforce challenge, the Legislature has the power to dictate change of its own devising."

The board did not carefully read or listen to our statement to Chancellor Steven Rosenstone and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities trustees concerning the strategic plan called "Charting the Future" (CTF): "The Inter Faculty Organization (IFO) embraces the values and commitments inherent in 'Charting the Future' … We commit ourselves to bringing the best ideas of more than 3,500 faculty members to the table as we move from these recommendations to concrete actions that will best serve those who chose to study at one of our state universities."

The editorial suggests that our demand that CTF recognize distinctive workforce missions between community and technical colleges and state universities is insubordination. The newspaper also implies that our cautionary warning that CTF honor local control and decentralization is obstructionist. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Rather, we are collaborative partners, exercising our responsibilities under shared governance. Our constructive criticism of an ill-advised first draft dramatically improved the final report. Likewise, we will press that implementation come not from the top down, but from the bottom up.

Monte Bute, Woodbury

The writer is an action coordinator for the Inter Faculty Organization, the collective bargaining representative for faculty in the seven state universities of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.