Letters to the Editor
Controlling gas emissions
Burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere while carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has a warming effect. These realities are beyond question. And exactly where greenhouse gases are released makes no difference; they still contribute to global warming. Since there is no such thing as carbon-free coal, we must minimize coal combustion. Exporting our coal might make coal executives wealthy, but it makes the climate condition worse.
Although burning natural gas emits less carbon dioxide than coal, extensive natural gas leaks occur between source and sink. Furthermore, when natural gas is extracted through hydraulic fracturing (fracking), the process introduces cancer-causing toxins into our environment. This is permitted only because Vice President Cheney's "Halliburton loophole" in the 2005 energy bill exempts fracking from clean water rules.
And methane (natural gas) has 23 times the warming impact of carbon dioxide. Because the extraction and export of natural gas is doubly damaging, we should reject the Lakeview to Coos Bay Pacific Gas Connector.
Finally, to control greenhouse gas emissions we could adopt a "polluter pays" principle, demanding a fee for the greenhouse gas composition of extracted fuels.
Gene engineering hurts farmers
Last week I read an article in the Mail Tribune announcing a new political action committee in Jackson County, Our Family Farms Coalition. It will work to raise awareness of genetically engineered crops, and advocates a yes vote on 15-119, the ballot measure to protect family farms.
In that same article, Ron Bjork, president of the Jackson County Farm Bureau, expresses concern that the measure will increase county expenses.
I find this puzzling. OFB challenged the ordinance when it was first presented, so Bjork must have read it. He would know that enforcement of the law would use existing county structure and personnel, maintaining existing expenses. Any abatement costs to the county from noncompliance would be recoverable from the violators. No added expense.
Bjork also said farmers who choose not to use genetically modified crops spread weeds into neighbor's fields. Actually, the greatest threat of spread is from GMO pollen, which contaminates natural genetics. Intensive herbicide use that goes with GMOs also drifts, poisoning neighboring crops, soil, water, air, animals and people.
Finally, genetically engineered agriculture produces superweeds, resistant to herbicides and tough to eradicate. When they inevitably spread, whole regions are damaged.
Genetic engineering hurts our farmers. Yes on 15-119.
Vote yes on GMO ballot measure
Vote yes on Measure 15-119 to protect our county's agriculture from genetically modified plants.
Why avoid eating GMOs? Independent studies link them to many health problems and they are banned in many places throughout the world.
Why avoid growing GMOs? Seeds migrate and contaminate non-modified crops.
Monsanto, Syngenta and other big corporations spent millions to defeat measures to protect consumers. They even object to labeling their GMO foods. They've sued farmers for unintentionally growing their GMO plants when seeds blew into their farms.
They don't play fair, so we can expect this to be a tough fight with lots of scare tactics and expensive ads. Don't be fooled.
Vote yes on Measure 15-119 so that people in Jackson County can enjoy the safe, healthful, tasty, unmodified food that nature provides.
Measure does not add county staff
You recently published an article about a newly formed farmers' group that supports passing Family Farm Measure 15-119 in the May 2014 election
In the article, Ron Bjork was quoted saying, "Can you imagine the county trying to set up an agriculture department to monitor this stuff to tell if it's genetically modified or not?" The answer is no, because Measure 15-119 does not add staff or budget to the county.
Measure 15-119 simply amends county code to add section JCC 635, which is nearly identical to the existing section JCC 630. That ordinance requires owners to remove diseased pear trees that threaten existing pear orchards and gives the county authority to do it and recoup its costs if the owner won't take care of it. Measure 15-119 follows the same procedure, using the same staff, with no additions to the budget.
Your readers should know that Bjork is director of a political action committee that has received $50,000 in the last week alone from out-of-state sugar companies trying to buy our election. Join over 125 local family farms that support Family Farm Measure 15-119. Vote yes in May. — Deborah-Miriam Leff, Medford