I appreciate Martin Teitel's optimism in his assessment that genetically altered produce, irradiated foods,
and milk from cows shot with bovine growth hormone have failed ("Food for Thought," March/April
1996). Our food supply is not yet safe from the zappers and gene-splicers, however. There's too much
corporate and government money at stake.
It did appear a while ago that irradiation was dead. But now Hawaii has plans to irradiate fruit with
the full approval of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In a trial project, Hawaiian fruit was shipped to
Isomedix, an irradiation facility in Illinois, and then sold in 22 retail outlets in the United States. This
year the USDA is expected to allow regular shipments of the fruit to come to the mainland for treatment
until Hawaii has its own facility.
Nor is bovine growth hormone dead. Consumers may "overwhelmingly opt for BGH-free milk," but
there isn't much BGH-free stuff out there. Yes, you can find BGH-free milk, but there is precious little
BGH-free ice cream, butter, cheese, and other dairy products. Most national brands contain milk from
treated cows, as do baked goods made with powdered milk.
And while it's true that bioengineered products aren't being greeted with a hugely favorable
response in U.S. markets, Monsanto CEO Robert Shapiro says that "genetically modified crops are going
to play an important part agriculturally in developing countries." The battle against "Frankenfoods" is far
Susan Meeker-Lowry, Managing Editor, Food & Water
Is it not hypocritical in a capitalist society, as the largest consumer of oil in the world, to lay blame for the
atrocities in [Nigeria's] Ogoniland only on big oil? (See "Shell's Game," March/April). Those of us who
love to pound our chests for the environment may have a gas tank full of sorrow--maybe not Shell's--but
there is plenty of suffering going on in other parts of the world because of our thirst for fuel.
Randy Beck, Indianapolis, Indiana
Editor's note: Those readers who at our suggestion wrote to Shell Oil about Shell Nigeria's
pollution in Nigeria and its complicity in the execution of environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa can take
personal pride in recent developments. Shortly before a shareholder meeting in May, Shell Nigeria offered
to discuss with the Ogoni people a plan to clean up all oil spills in Ogoniland "if an agreement is reached
that company staff can return to the area in safety." The announcement shows that the international
outrage over Nigeria's executions of environmental activists has finally sunk in. But it is only a first step.
Keep the pressure up by contacting Shell Oil President Philip J. Carroll, P.O. Box 2463, Houston, TX
77252; (800) 248-4257. Tell him that you will continue to boycott Shell products unless Shell Nigeria
agrees to forgo new oil activity until cleanup is complete and to pay restitution to the Ogoni people for the
loss of their farmland. If you have a Shell credit card, cut it up and send it back with your letter. For more
information, contact Stephen Mills in the Sierra Club's Washington, D.C., office at (202) 675-6691, or via
It is easy to condemn the auto industry for being stubborn and anti-environment (" 'Car Talks'--Motown
Walks," March/April), but keep in mind that we Americans (yes, even some Sierra Club members) love
our cars and trucks. I believe that the best solution, and the one that the Sierra Club should endorse, is
hybrid vehicles, which utilize a small, highly efficient engine running a generator that charges on-board
batteries. The batteries are then used to power one or more electric motors that drive the car. This is our
best hope for a low-emission, high-mileage vehicle.
Hal Schnee, Mineola, New York
It bothered me to read "Assault on Mauna Loa" (March/April). One does not assault one's sister or
mother. One doesn't have to be either New Age or Native Hawaiian to feel that one's relation to this land
should be humble, grateful, cooperative, respectful, and caring. So, please, no military conquering
metaphors. Instead, let's try, "Thank you, Mauna Loa, for allowing me to see how this land was created
and is still being created in the middle of this vast ocean. Thank you for letting me come up into this thin,
clean air and letting me share your life."
Sally Raisbeck, Wailuku, Maui, Hawaii
In regard to a name for the incredible wilderness area in upper British Columbia ("Where the Mountains
Have No Name," March/April), I can think of no better name than the one the author used in describing
its size and grandeur. The "Fifty Watersheds Wilderness" is a place I want to see.
Chuck Dresel, Napa, California
Rebecca Solnit wrote a memorable essay in "Where the Mountains Have No Name." I have never before
had the opportunity to be among the first to help start trashing a previously unknown pristine wilderness
area. Perhaps together we can bring it into the 21st century.
William J. Tocher, Fiddletown, California
Where You Were . . .
There were far too many entries to count, so let's just say that Sierra received more than six
pounds of postcards in response to our "Where in the Wild Are You" travel contest (March/April). For the
record, the correct answers are as follows:
1. The peak you and John Muir exult in and on: Mt. Ritter in the Sierra Nevada.
2. The "perfectly formed" stream you and Wallace Stegner would be dipping your toes into: Arizona's
3. The valley where Edwin Way Teale found trees "draped and bearded with moss": Hoh Valley in
Olympic National Park, Washington. (We also accepted the nearby Queets Valley as an answer, as it
shelters, by some accounts, the "second largest western hemlock in America.")
4. The place where Wallace Stegner found "the remembered canyon silence": Utah's Escalante
5. The chasm that delighted Wendell Berry: Red River Gorge in Kentucky.
The winner, chosen in a random drawing of all completely correct entries, will receive a trip for two down
Canada's upper Alsek River courtesy of Canadian River Expeditions, with air transportation provided by
Canadian Airlines International. For the name of the winner (who has already been notified), send a self-
addressed, stamped envelope to Sierra. Thanks to our generous sponsors.
Vermont's Long Trail is not "America's oldest hiking trail," as we stated in
"Fish Out of Water"
(March/April). The 268-mile Long Trail is the country's oldest long-distance trail, but it is predated by
New Hampshire's 8.2-mile Crawford Path.
In our May/June issue, we neglected to credit Minden Pictures for photos by Frans Lanting (cover and
page 46) and Jim Brandenburg (page 57).
In the same issue we praised a San Francisco legal newspaper for its leadership in reporting the hype
behind recent kangaroo-rat coverage. We inadvertently truncated the publication's name: it is The
Recorder, not The Record.
Sierra welcomes letters from readers in response to recently published articles. Letters may be
edited for length and clarity. Write to us at 85 Second St., San Francisco, CA 94105-3441; fax (415) 977-
5794; e-mail address: