This is not true in the slightest. During digestion, our bodies break down whatever DNA is in our food into its individual building blocks, destroying whatever genetic information was present. It doesn’t matter whether you think that DNA is “natural” or not, it all gets broken down the same way. And the part about messenger RNA is completely backwards. Messenger RNA carries the information from our own genes to a structure called the ribosome that translates the code into a sequence of amino acids for making a protein. It does not incorporate new genetic information into our DNA, least of all from our food!

The genetics of our food crops have been in constant change with and without human intervention. The kinds of changes occurring with genetic engineering are far less drastic than the majority of genetic changes that have been made through the history of these plants. Whole chromosomes have been duplicated, recombined, mutated, inserted, and deleted. Adding one or two new genes pales in comparison.

There are real issues and challenges facing our species as we figure out how to use genetic engineering to benefit us and the environment, but in order to properly address these questions, we need to educate ourselves about what is actually going on. Comparing genetic engineering to radiation poisoning is a form of hyperbole the likes of which I have never seen before. In the absence of knowledge about a new and complicated issue, people will often come up with ideas that speak of impending and widespread destruction rather than address those issues rationally. That’s “the present craziness.”

P.S. I’m a plant genetics grad student. Our website, biofortified.org, is a group blog that I write with another grad student and two professors, where we try to educate people about plant genetics, including genetic engineering.

Karl Haro von Mogel
Madison, WI

Criminals’ Hideout

Yes, downtown San Diego is getting ugly (“It’s Getting Ugly Downtown,” Cover Story, December 4). And so is all of San Diego, with the traffic, high cost of living, gangs, crime, corruption in city hall, and the immense flow of gangsters and undesirables. About the criminals, as long as they have the money, they can live here.

All sorts of seedy and bad elements are moving in (just check who owns the Coronado properties), since they have the lawyers and the dirty cash.

No better place for corrupt politicians from Mexico to hide than in the Cays or the Taco towers or the huge homes. Does anybody care about quality, or is it just the buck?

The quality of life certainly has gone down, and soon enough this lovely city will be no more. No more “America’s finest city.”

Charles Borsuk
via email

The Media Makes It Worse

If slanted, misleading, and superficial journalism is all you feel is necessary to consider an article for publication, then you have achieved your limited goals with the cover article in the December 4 edition (“It’s Getting Ugly Downtown”). Please! There is too much at stake here and no room for error in reporting on the financial conditions of the downtown market and on people’s financial lives. Of course, some of the truths I am about to reveal may not sell as many advertising spots, but they need to be told to balance out the limited and shoddy reporting of your article.

First, there are actually seven distinct neighborhoods downtown, and each supports a different quality, price point, and style of living. To use a broad brush and proclaim it is “getting ugly downtown” does a disservice to the areas that are actually doing quite well and to the future of the projects under construction.

Take a look at the Marina District, for instance. While there has been a reduction in the overall price per square foot in most buildings, the actual percentage is quite small compared to other areas of the county. And inventory is hardly overwhelming. The Pinnacle has 202 units with only 10 units on the market for sale. CityFront Terrace has 320 units and only 14 on the market. Inventory needs to be about 10 percent of the building’s total units to equal a three- to four-month supply. These particular examples (and there are many more like this) represent a far less hysterical picture than your article. The number of units under construction and due to be delivered in the next six months will be all that is available until at least 2012. With the increasing interest from a broader national and international market and actual purchases that are happening every day, despite the skeptics’ interpretation, we may very well experience a shortage of units in the not-too-distant future which will drive prices back up to 2006 numbers and beyond.

In regards to the specific examples of individuals caught between their lenders, mortgage/HOA/taxes, and descending values, these stories are not unique nor are they the majority. Many owners bought with 20 percent or more down payment, many had good credit, did not overextend themselves on the purchase, and will weather the storm until prices rebound on the upswing of the cycle. Yes, it has been an unusually deeper and longer cycle than anyone could have predicted, but real estate led the country into this recession and real estate will lead it out.

It is disingenuous and sleazy tabloid journalism to smear the newsstands with an article that had so little research behind it and made absolutely no attempt to present any information to balance the flimsy assertions it did present. I know the old media adage “If it bleeds, it leads” is enticing and sells papers, but honestly, when did we lose the passion for truth and nonbiased investigative journalism? Isn’t it possible that the current economic conditions of our country were exacerbated by the way the media has researched and reported the news? And if that is true, couldn’t the media become part of the solution as we move forward rather than the continuous problem? It’s time for the media to take responsibility and to take a stand to help highlight the good, not just the “ugly downtown.”

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Comments

Josh Board Dec. 17, 2008 @ 4:42 p.m.

In response to two letters: Charly, the smashing potatoes sounded great. I wish I could've seen it.

In regards to the police/cyclists...maybe the officer handled the situation that way. Or maybe an angry cyclist said he did. Who knows. But, if this letter writer wants to talk about what a police officers job is, let me add my two cents.

I think if the police see cyclists doing these rides, they should immediately arrest every one that runs a stop sign. Every one that is blocking traffic. Issue hardcore citations, as the riders doing this are engaged in a number of illegal things. Hey, you can even trump up the charges by calling it "intent to incite a riot," because I can easily see how this can become a riot, when people in cars, that did nothing wrong, can't go when the light is green, or whatever.

It's a shame your thumb gotten bitten off. But ya know what? The cyclists should think more about other people, and how determental this crap is. I know some cyclists that say they hate this practice, and they also hate that other motorists will now be angry at ANY bicyclist they see.

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