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Letters to the Editor, Sept. 16

They work for us

Reading about the multitude of incidents involving overzealous police officers, I wish someone would place those incidents in context.

Those officers are civil servants. Citizens have decided on a social contract whereby they pay taxes to support all public functions they are unable to deliver, as they are busy making a living. Citizens pay civil servants' salaries, benefits, retirement, patrol cars, expense reports, radios, computers, etc. so they are equipped to perform their policing services.

They are our employees, not the employees of some abstract entity antagonistic to us. They are accountable to us first and foremost, and their managers, including the mayor, are our employees also, and the city, the small town or the rural community where they perform their duties exists because of us. They are responsible to carry out their duties in respect of our values, beliefs and laws.

Although police officers in the majority are professionals, in consideration of the damaging consequences for citizens such as James Blake, who was arrested Sept. 9 in New York, we have to deplore too many incidents by rogue officers who do not deserve to be and should not remain our employees.

Richard A. Jacquot

Ashland

More glyphosate risks

I appreciated Ray Seidler's guest opinion in the Tidings last week, "Glyphosate poses health risks." He points out several reasons that our long-term exposure to this ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, widely used on GMO crops like soy, corn and sugar beets, is a cause for concern.

I would like to add to his concerns with an additional point. Glyphosate blocks a biochemical pathway in plants that is critical in the production of proteins. Humans and other mammals lack this pathway, which is why glyphosate was given approval to be used on food crops.

However, it turns out that the normal microbes living in the human GI tract (mostly bacteria in the large intestine) DO have this pathway; in fact, one Monsanto patent on glyphosate proposes its use as an antibiotic. Thus another negative effect of taking in even small amounts of glyphosate in our foods is the potential disruption of our intestinal microbes.

Recent research indicates that our gut bacteria play important, even critical, roles in our health — from the synthesis of vitamins and other metabolites we use to tuning our immune system and sealing our intestinal wall against invasion by pathogenic intruders and chemicals in our gut. Any environmental agent with the ability to alter the mixture of microorganisms in our GI tract (our "microbiome") should be viewed with special caution.

Although evidence that glyphosate is affecting the balance of our natural microbiomes is inconclusive at this point, why take unnecessary chances? If Roundup-Ready crops cannot be banned in the U.S. (as they are in most of Europe), then at least GMO products should be labeled, so that consumers can decide what they choose to eat.

Note: Science Works museum in Ashland will be hosting a new exhibit called "The Zoo in You", opening in October this year. For those with an interest in the amazing research going on in the burgeoning field of the human microbiome, this will be a good introduction.

John Kloetzel

Ashland