Take Two #91: Hello from Denver

By Kyra-lin Hom

Greetings from the Mile High City! I am currently hailing from the Denver, Colorado area. My boyfriend and I are taking a weeklong pit stop here to visit his family before moving onto Chicago. All the way up here it is warm, dry and beautiful. It doesn't quite have Seattle's glorious greenery, but the the surrounding desert-like mountains are a sight all their own.

While killing time mid-transit from downtown Denver to Boulder, a few very pointed online comments in response to last weeks' column on I-522 sprang to my attention. It was made apparent to me that I was not as clear as I could have been. The issues raised by “Tom” were absolutely valid, and I'm incredibly grateful for the civility of the threads his posts spawned. Tom can't have been the only person I unintentionally misled so please accept my apology and allow me to clarify.

As it is currently written, I-522 would require the GMO or partial GMO labels to be placed “clearly and conspicuously on the front of the package.” When I mentioned the inconspicuous Netherlands GMO labeling, I was illustrating how this labeling could be done. Unfortunately, this would require the cooperation and support of the government on a federal scale. According to our President, federal support of the food movement is not something we can expect until we the people prove it's what we want through, for example, state legislature.

In regards to who in the long chain from farmer to retailer is liable for this labeling, I admit I oversimplified the issue. I-522 Section 3 places the responsibility of processed goods solely on the manufacturer. But grocery stores are responsible for the proper labeling of raw agricultural commodities and seed and seed stock if the manufacturer fails to do so. I-522 currently does not account in any way for imported goods. I can only assume these details will be hashed out once they become necessary like the quagmire we're getting post I-502 (marijuana). Maybe I'm being optimistic. Maybe not.

GMO's are in over 70% of our food – pretty much everything not labeled 'organic.' There is definitely potential for a positive vote on I-522 to result in "may be partially produced with genetic engineering" just getting slapped on everything. This could be worse than nothing happening at all. It's possible that we'd get so used to seeing GMO labels that they'd become meaningless background. But the other possibility is that a yes on I-522 would start a slippery slope, diminishing the barriers to more significant legislation in the future. It isn't about sticking it to the GMO giants, but rather about starting a snowball that will eventually grow too big to be ignored.

That said, it's really time for me to get off my soapbox and change the channel. Science can be scary, but it can also be incredibly cool. Case in point, the new South Korean OLEV.

The OLEV (short for online electric vehicle) system was developed by the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and has just recently entered the practical testing phase, running in two public busses in a small Korean city.

What makes this technology so cool is how the batteries charge. By now, we're familiar with downtown Seattle's aerial wire-webbing charging our busses, and electric car charging stations are popping up in parking garages everywhere. But what about a vehicle that just needs the road? OLEV's are charged via magnetic fields generated by cables buried just beneath the surface of the road. A device attached to the OLEV's undercarriage receives the magnetic 'message' and converts it into electricity regardless of the whether the OLEV itself is moving, idling or parked. For the cherry on top, these special cables that only need placing in 5-15% of the road don't interfere with regular cars. They can sense the difference. Don't ask me how. I have no idea.

Imagine if we could combine this technology with Elon Musk's super sleek Tesla or his proposed hyperloop? (I just visited a Tesla store/exhibition center here in Denver for the first time – they are stunningly chic.) No gas. No gas stations and all the rest of that baggage. Now that's a future I'd look forward to.

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