LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

'Good neighbor' is implausible

State Sen. Herman Baertschiger's and Rep. Sal Esquivel's article on GMO farming (April 28) suggests a "folksy" local approach as opposed to a ban. Unfortunately, they (as well as their supporters) ignore a major factor: the USA has among the most lax existing GMO regulation in the developed world.

The USA's GMO regulatory criteria are governed by: 1) focus on the final GMO product, not the development process; 2) regulation based only on verifiable risk; 3) existing statutes considered sufficient to review GMO products. By contrast, the European Union bases its regulatory criteria upon: 1) all GMOs considered as "new food" and subject to extensive study prior to approval by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA); 2) approval criteria include safety, freedom of choice, labeling and traceability; 3) impact upon conventional farming methods.

We scarcely know enough to allow most GMOs in the first place, let alone assume that the issue can be "worked out" between neighbors. The most obvious concern is GMO seed contamination, but legal implications also are immense. Anyone familiar with Monsanto's history of patent infringement lawsuits against conventional farmers (whose seeds were contaminated by Monsanto GMOs) knows that "Good neighbor farmer" is not in the playbook. — Andrew Kubik, Ashland


Extension cuts will cost county

Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center's (SOREC) federal and state funding requires significant local matching funds. Jackson County's $204,000 cut (11 percent of SOREC's budget) will cause withdrawal of these funds.

Losses include SOREC closure (31 jobs); $8.48 for each county dollar in grants/contracts totaling $590,244 (2012); support for the $23.5 million pear industry, the $7.7 million wine industry, the $66 million agriculture/livestock industry, the $8 million small-woodlands industry and the crop-seed industry; agripreneurs nursery; landscaping; yard-maintenance personnel training; state/federal agricultural regulations assistance; fire-hazard reduction; weed abatement; soil/water conservation; streamside/forest restoration; pesticide recertification; Integrated Pest Management; 4-H/after-school programs (4,000-plus children); food safety/nutrition classes (schools, food pantries, food kitchens); older-adult chronic-health programs; the Master Gardener program (self-supporting); the plant clinic (3,000-plus inquiries annually); business income from 4-H activities; business income related to the Spring Garden Fair (150 vendors, 7,000-8,000 attendees); Winter Dreams Summer Gardens (annual gardening symposium, 300-plus attendees); 900-plus classes annually; agricultural/horticultural information for newspapers, radio, TV; 30,000-plus volunteer hours (more than $650,000 value); school support ($5,000-plus in 2012); community gardens support ($5,000-plus); OSU scholarships for county students ($5,000-plus). SOREC's value far exceeds $204,000! — Elizabeth (Jane) Moyer, Central Point


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