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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, August 22, 2004

Letters to the Editor

And now the agony of deployment begins

The journey begins for the families of those deployed. Sleepless nights, nightmares, etc., will be the norm. Support groups as well as various agencies are available to family members of all ages to help in the time of separation.

The family readiness group of a soldier's unit is the reliable source to receive information. Rumors are worse than the enemy. Today's technology has enabled many organizations and support groups to be available online. Unfortunately, not all have access to a computer.

My nightmares and sleepless nights have not ended with the departure of my son and daughter to tours of duty in Iraq. Knowing that there are still troopers there and many just starting who come from Hawai'i isn't easy to just forget. I pray that all return safely.

I am a proud mother of three soldiers. I am an American born and raised in Hawai'i. God bless our men and women of our armed forces. God bless America!

Lyn Vasquez

Blame City Council for the farm bill fiasco

Alan Takemoto, executive director of the Hawai'i Farm Bureau, wrote a letter on O'ahu farm taxation in the Aug. 9 Advertiser entitled "Farm Bureau did not assist in drafting Bill 10." He pointed out that his organization had been assured that the legislation was going to leave farmers' tax liability virtually the same. When that turned out to be manifestly untrue, Bill 35 was supported by his organization as a means of holding off damage for a year while corrections are made.

Gosh, if a farmer makes a big business mistake, like planting the wrong crop, he experiences personal financial hardship. Or, if he buys a tractor based on what turns out to be false claims by the producer or seller, he has resource to get damages. But these City Council members made a huge mistake and subsequently suffered no personal financial consequences whatsoever. But the farmer does suffer such. These farmers seem twice damned.

Does it make sense for someone to make a mistake — which causes you extreme pain and suffering — and the culprit never be held accountable?

Is there something wrong with this picture?

Dick Rowland
President, Grassroot Institute of Hawai'i

Oil refiners should embrace ethanol use

What Miles Kahaloa's Aug. 17 letter regarding ethanol fails to acknowledge is that Hawai'i's oil refineries face no effective competition in the Hawai'i gasoline market and exert market power. Therefore, they do not feel the same pressures to reduce prices as do refiners on the Mainland whose situation more closely resembles a free market.

Hawai'i's oil refiners make the bulk of their profits from gasoline sales, and a 10 percent ethanol mandate is estimated to reduce their gasoline sales by 7 percent. In short, the refineries are fighting this mandate not because it is bad for consumers, but because it will lower sales of their most profitable product.

The Legislature has extensively reviewed the merits of ethanol and the costs and benefits of its use in great detail. Legislators have concluded that ethanol production and use represent a unique opportunity for Hawai'i to create new jobs, preserve existing jobs, spur rural agricultural development, reduce our dependence on imported petroleum and reduce pollution. This mandate is an effective way to stimulate markets, encourage competition and reduce prices, all good characteristics of a free market, to benefit the greater public good.

Rather than viewing ethanol as a threat, perhaps, as good corporate citizens, the oil refiners could embrace local ethanol production as a socially responsible investment opportunity. It would be following in the footsteps of BP's Beyond Petroleum campaign and Shell Renewables advertising blitzes on how big oil companies are touting their investments in clean, renewable energy.

Rep. Mina Morita
D-14th (Kapa'a, Hanalei); chair, House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection

Asians, islanders should be given test

Gov. Linda Lingle has declared August as hepatitis B Awareness Month. Hepatitis B affects approximately 4.5 percent of our population or approximately 60,000 individuals.

Most of these 60,000 infected people do not even know they have hepatitis B. Why not? Because these infected individuals look fine, feel fine and even probably got blood tests to check their livers and even those blood tests were fine. The only way to check if a person has hepatitis B is to get a specific blood test (Hepatitis B Surface Antigen). And that test is given out free.

Why do you want to be tested for hepatitis B? Because as many as one in 10 Asians and Pacific Islanders have it but don't even suspect it because they probably got it at birth.

Why be concerned about being infected with hepatitis B? Because it causes liver cancer, and liver cancer kills. So, get one simple blood test and find out if you are at risk of dying from liver cancer. For a laboratory slip to get a free hepatitis B test, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to:

Jade Ribbon Campaign of Hawaii c/o Liver Center at St. Francis
2228 Liliha St. #306
Honolulu, HI 96817

For more information on hepatitis B, see http//liver.stanford.edu/ (Asian Liver Center at Stanford University).

Ida Mai, M.D.
Retired physician, Jade Ribbon Campaign of Hawaii volunteer

Close it up, already

Ever go into the turn lane and the cars are stopped with one to two car lengths between cars? Stupid, yeah? Not sure what they think the car in front of them is going to do, but when only two, maybe three cars make it through a green light, now that is enough to cause road rage. Maybe their speedometer is stuck on 20 mph so they leave two lengths between cars. Go figure.

Stephen Casares

Biopharm field disclosure is security issue, not safety

Eloise Engman's Aug. 16 response to Judge David Ezra's ruling requiring the disclosure of research fields for pharmaceutical crops misses the point. This is not an issue of human health and the environment.

Maintaining the confidentiality of the locations of these valuable research plots is about guarding these potentially lifesaving plants from vandalism and securing competitive information. The protection of confidential business information is not unique to biotechnology, but it is vital to any business engaged in new product development.

Hawai'i's agricultural biotech industry has a great safety track record. In addition to our own product-safety testing, our industry is overseen by three federal agencies that create a coordinated framework to oversee the management and test the safety of the crops from research to commercialization. The Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency ensure the products that reach commercialization are not only safe for the environment and human health, but they also regulate the testing, some of which occurs in Hawai'i, to ensure that the crops are contained.

Our beautiful island environment is safe. While large amounts of land may be used for seed research, the actual test plots for plant-made pharmaceuticals are extremely small and are surrounded by wide buffer zones.

In addition, the research and commercial crops grown here, mainly corn, soybeans and sunflower, do not have plant relatives in Hawai'i, making it impossible for them to pollinate or breed with any Hawaiian plant life.

Public disclosure of test field locations could significantly interrupt research and delay the development of innovative treatments for patients with a wide variety of diseases. For millions of people, plants that produce therapeutic proteins may be their only chance for treatment.

This is not a safety issue. It is a business security issue.

Rick Klemm
Executive director, HARTS Hawai'i