Letters for the Week of August 21 

Readers sound off on fracking legislation, unionization, and genetic engineering.

Page 3 of 3

The most fundamental thing wrong with genetic engineering is that it tries to speed up evolution, which in nature takes a very long time compared to human lifetimes.  This unnatural speeding-up of evolution is very dangerous because humans have no way of knowing the unintended consequences of messing with the basic building blocks of life, which is what genetic engineering is.  In fact, the objective of genetic engineering is of the same mentality as that of Nazi science: trying to artificially create something instead of accepting what nature creates. The Nazis tried to do it with people, and current genetic engineering does it with other species.

Furthermore, your comment that some of us oppose "tinkering with nature" despite humans doing so for a long time implies a major lie: that human "tinkering," far more accurately described as destruction of species and their habitats, is benevolent, or at least benign. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that once humans started using agriculture and grossly overpopulated the earth, it has all been downhill for other species, ecosystems, the air, land, water, and the earth itself.  Humans have caused the Sixth Great Extinction in which we are now living, are causing climate change that is in turn already causing major ecological disruptions that are certain to get worse, have so polluted our oceans with CO2 that the acidification from that gas will cause the oceans to devolve by 200 million years, have polluted every bit of land, air, and water, etc., etc.  The only humans who are not responsible for these massive problems are those who continue to live naturally and eschew most, if not all, advanced technologies.

The fools who artificially engineer plants and animals by injecting genes of other species into them must be stopped. It might not be very long until the negative consequences of doing this are known, and by then it will be far too late.  Modern humans need to get some humility and respect for nature and natural processes, and drop the hubris before they do something from which there will be no return.

Jeff Hoffman, Berkeley

"BART's Big Gift to Wealthy Corporations," News, 7/17


I love an excuse to blame corporations, but the recent article "BART's Big Gift to Wealthy Corporations" reads like poorly researched click-bait. Of course BART should capture some of the value of the increased property values near its stations. In the transportation field we call this "value capture," and it works pretty well. But as another letter from BART's General Manager explained, BART doesn't actually have the authority to tax adjacent property. It did have the authority to develop much-needed housing around its suburban stations, but neighboring residents refused to allow anyone else to share the gift of their new stations. So instead of building and selling off whole mixed-use and transit-oriented neighborhoods, BART had to build parking garages, and has had to fight to charge enough to even pay for operating them. Don't look at downtown San Francisco for an example of a missed financial opportunity, look at North Berkeley BART.

Ruth Miller, Oakland

Miscellaneous Letters


I must say, I'm getting a real horselaugh out of the current public transportation situation. First, a BART strike, and then an AC Transit strike. See, it's enough to make even the most staunch environmentalist yearn for the days when owning and operating a gas-guzzling, carbon-footprint muscle car was not a subject for politically correct hissy fits. Well, when those people who oppose private motor vehicle ownership lose their jobs because they have no way to get to work, they will have the satisfaction of knowing they are amongst the environmentally righteous while they are on the way to the homeless shelter. To those folks I say, "Enjoy! It's only what you set yourself up for!"

James J. Fenton, Oakland


Our August 14 What the Fork column erroneously stated that Spoon Korean Bistro opens at 8 a.m.; it actually opens at 9 a.m. 

In our August 14 Education & Careers story "Parachuting Into Coding," we erroneously stated that App Academy's average tuition is $8,190. However, it's actually double that amount because students must pay 18 percent of their first year's pre-tax salary in the first six months of their new job, not 18 percent of six month's worth of their first year's pre-tax salary. 


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