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ARA should boycott grapes

(Editor's note: The Tech received a copy of this letter addressed to Alan Leo, general manager of food services.)

On behalf of the Undergraduate Association and the group Mujeres Latinas, we would like to invite you and your office to the Wednesday, March 20 discussion with C'esar Ch'avez, United Farm Worker Union founder and president, from 12 pm to 2 pm in the Wiesner Building's Bartos Theater.

In addition to other issues, Ch'avez will be addressing the plight of the farm workers in the California grape industry -- a struggle that has lasted through seven years of boycotting, striking and even fasting.

This action has centered around the issue of toxic pesticides used in growing the grapes. These pesticides have medically been connected to the alarming cancer and birth defect cases among the region's grape workers: cases that have compiled a cancer rate 12 times the national average among farm workers' children alone.

According to the UFW, the same pesticides also prove a hazard to consumers. As you may be aware of, many individual groups and stores have ceased to use or sell table grapes until the pesticide problem is solved.

The continued selling of grapes nationwide is detrimental not only to the farm worker who must continue his work for disinterested owners, but also to the consumer who must eat grapes infested with pesticides that have medically been proven as dangerous.

As concerned members of the MIT community, we are aware that table grapes are frequently served at Institute events and sold in MIT dining facilities. We would like to prevent this health risk to members of our community and also the harm to farm workers.

We are proud of the far-reaching impact our university's administrative decisions have. However, when we identify problems, we are obligated to question the decisions that support them. We hope you will help us find a solution.

For these reasons, we respectfully request that your office pull table grapes from all MIT-owned cafeterias and food-service ventures. This decision would affect the current contract with ARA as well as future contracts. Yet, although it would have health and social impacts on campus, this decision would most likely carry minimal financial costs to the Institute.

We will be contacting your office to set up a meeting prior to the date for the Ch'avez visit. We would like to discuss the logistics and implementation of extending the National Grape Boycott to MIT as well as any possible barriers.

As the date for Ch'avez' visit approaches, we would be proud to announce at the event that our university has joined the boycott of table grapes. This decision would prove to be a triumph for both the US farm worker and the MIT consumer.

Louise Dunlap->

Department of Urban Studies and Planning->

Rosalie J. Gonz'alez '93->

Carlos Eduardo Mart'in '92->

Sonia E. Tena '92->