Children Have a Duty to Take Care of Their Parents

In regards to your cover story titled "Ties That Bind" (June 14): The first sentence that appears upon the cover reads, "Taking care of elderly patients isn't a job for the weak." After reading the story, I think the proper opening sentence should have read, "... isn't a job for the selfish."

The daughters of these elderly women attempted to justify their opinions with a lot of quasi-intellectual rhetoric. However, it seemed to me that they were simply bitching and moaning about the inconveniences placed upon them by their elderly parents. It is always easier to simply send our parents to a facility that caters to them. However, may we hope that the day arrives that these women, and others like them, will come to know that the only things that mean anything in life are the things we do for others, not the things we do for ourselves.

If I had kids like those in the story, I would consider it a blessing to be in an old folks' home, or anywhere that kept me away from them.

Stephen Campbell

Drugs Are Hurting Our City, America

I read the article "Lessons on the Border" (Currents, June 14). Thank you for sharing this information. The fact that border violence is getting closer to our city is deplorable. The fact that people in our country require, need and desire the drugs from these people is insane. It's sad to say, but Americans are the consumers. How many innocent people in Mexico and along the borders will die for American drug use? What a price this country asks others to pay because of the desire to buy illegal drugs.

Ellen Hartline

A Dissenting Opinion About the Rio Café

We hope that Rita Connelly's review of Rio Café in the old Nonie's location won't dissuade potential customers ("Failure to Fuse," Chow, June 14). The best restaurants are about the food, not about themes (What's with the excessive peevishness about "fusion"?) or ambience. (Hey, the interior is exquisite given that the exterior is a Swiss chalet surrounded by the sea of asphalt that is Grant Road.) And Rio does food right. We've been there five times, once with a group of 10, all of whom raved about their meals.

The service is attentive--including the owner's visit to each table--and the menu imaginative and varied enough to suit almost all palates and wallets. We are happy diners.

Denice Blake and John Blackwell

Genetic Engineering Has a Long History in Agriculture

Matt Jenkins' article ("Brave New Hay," June 21) includes and often confounds two arguments: that Monsanto abuses its market share in the fashion of General Motors or Microsoft to the detriment of agriculture; and that genetically modified crops are unnatural and dangerous. With the former argument, I have little disagreement. However, if Jenkins had a fact-checker to complement his spell-checker, he should have been embarrassed to make the latter argument.

I'm not a fan of using genetic engineering as a means to simply make crops that are more resistant to more chemicals. But there do exist far better uses of the technology, and we would be idiotic to throw the baby out with the bathwater when we have at our disposal tools that promise to dramatically increase yields, thereby permitting the restoration of farmland to pristine habitat while keeping people who can't afford to do all their shopping at the Food Conspiracy Co-op (i.e., almost everyone on Earth) well fed.

The worry shared by Jenkins' hayseed friends that the Roundup gene is going to "contaminate" other crops puzzles me. If weeds develop a resistance to Roundup, that simply means Roundup won't be effective against them and thus won't be used, which is presumably exactly the outcome he wishes. If Jenkins had a remedial comprehension of evolutionary biology, he would know that there's no general selective pressure that is going to somehow make Roundup-resistant weeds resistant to all manner of other treatments. He writes that evidence of the manifestation of such generalized resistance is accumulating, yet predictably doesn't cite any.

Perhaps naturalist essayist Annie Dillard said it best when she mused that there is nothing more unnatural than an acre of corn. Since the dawn of agriculture, growing crops has always been the domain of bioengineers. What traditional plant breeders do when they select for desirable traits (e.g., pest resistance) is ensure that certain genes, often mutants, are passed on to the next generation, and certain other genes belonging to individuals deemed unsuitable for harvest are eliminated. Through this process, genes that would never stand a chance in an unengineered environment propagate and spread willy-nilly.

Genetic engineers do the same thing, only less blindly: They know precisely which genes they are inserting or silencing, and, unlike in traditional breeding, they can test the downstream implications of those changes. Anti-GMO activists often sound the alarm of genetic "contamination" and often cite the same debunked study Jenkins does. They seem to fail to grasp that the flow of "unnatural" genes from crops to other landraces has always been the norm in agriculture. Thus, the issue of gene flow is a red herring: I can guarantee that genes introduced by genetic engineers will appear in other landraces, and I can guarantee that genes selected by traditional breeders will appear in other landraces. In both cases, the pollen flies, and the genes flow. There has never been a choice to not consume these runaway genes.

Matt Scholz
Senior Research Specialist
UA Department of Plant Sciences

Education Is Not a Cultural Value for Latinos

How does granting amnesty ("Crossing the Line," The Skinny, June 7) to alien unskilled labor help the U.S. economy?

The primary economic advantage of illegal labor is that it is subsidized by American taxpayers. The 10 to 20 million unskilled, uneducated immigrants flooding across the southern border each demand medical, educational, policing and other types of welfare costs. To pluck chickens and pick cabbage, the Heritage Foundation estimates that each unskilled laborer debits a net annual liability of $20,000 per uneducated worker per year. Grant amnesty to unlawful landscapers, and there is no longer an economic advantage for hiring these workers: They automatically become long-term economic liabilities.

The vast majority of unskilled aliens show no signs of ever becoming skilled employees. Moreover, studies show that most unskilled aliens will remain unmotivated to learn and speak our national language. As there will no longer be economic nor sociological advantages (nor any other reason) for employing millions upon millions of uneducated aliens, the costs to taxpayers will be overwhelming. Amnesty will exponentially magnify the economic destruction.

Though the unskilled laborer's taxpayer-supported children do eventually learn English, they remain educationally resistant for generations. Compare the quantifiable cultural academic work ethics of the children of illegal laborers to legal first-generation Confucian-Asian, Middle Eastern, European and Indian students, both here and in their home countries; compare the educational attainment rates of legal (skilled) immigrants to undocumented migrants, and all must conclude that education is not a cultural value for most Latinos. Studies suggest that tens of millions of these uneducated children of lawbreaking immigrants are already turning to crime and welfare rather than gaining the skills needed to function in a modern economy.

Joseph R. Damron

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