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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Saw one of the TV ads the huge international chemical companies are spending a million dollars on.

A young woman is crying that her father will go bankrupt if 15-119 passes. She didn't give details, because then you'd doubt this ad.

Measure 15-119 limits genetically engineered crops to enclosed greenhouses, which won't cross-pollinate and contaminate the crops of neighboring farms.

If 15-119 doesn't pass, local family farms will have to continue plowing under crops, grow GE, or get sued for patent-infringement. These farms would lose export customers that include 60 countries that limit genetically engineered crops.

Many other countries also actually tested GE crops, and found they yield less.

The Jackson County Grange and over 150 actual local farmers urge yes on 15-119. Do it for our economy! — Margery Winter, Ashland

It seems as if election 2014 has all the emphasis on Measure 15-119.

Remember folks, we have a governor to vote for. Regardless what political party you are, Democrat, Republican, bipartisan or neutral, you don't have to vote that way. Vote for the person who will do best at the job for the people.

John Kitzhaber is ruining our state. He screwed up the Cover Oregon health exchange and a number of other things.

He dug himself a hole and is putting the blame on other people to make himself look like a hero. We need a change and now is the time and our chance. — Harold Saunders, Jacksonville

Syngenta, a Swiss agri-chemical corporation, is experimenting with planting its patented, genetically modified sugar beets around Jackson County.

What are the risks and costs of these unregulated GM crops?

First, Jackson County farmers who are not under contract with Syngenta could have their crops contaminated by drifting GM seeds and have to destroy their plants. Crops and income could repeatedly suffer.

Asia and Europe have restrictions on importing genetically modifed foods. Last July a GM strain of Monsanto wheat, never approved for consumption, popped up in Oregon. Japan immediately suspended all U.S. imports, until intensive testing found no contamination. Wheat prices faltered, and farmers lost sales. (NY Times, NPR) And scientists have detected that GM cropping breeds new weeds and insects that require stronger pesticides, a big expense.

Vote yes on Measure 15-119 to reduce these costs and risks. — Julie Norman, Ashland

Many people remember the classic movie "Ghostbusters" with Bill Murray and Sigourney Weaver. In this comedy, people are confronted with a serious problem they don't know how to solve (ghosts) and the theme song asks, "Who you gonna call? The answer: "Ghostbusters."

Today in Jackson County, if you are a farmer, rancher, gardener or homeowner confronted with a serious problem you don't know how to solve and you need help, you have to ask, "Who are you going to call?" and the answer is "Jackson County Research and Extension," because that's where you get science-based factual information to deal with invasive weeds, crop-destroying insects, dying trees or ants invading your home.

Extension really is the "Ghostbuster" of our valley. Extension is the key to our emerging food economy. Let's support and keep the Extension viable. Vote yes on 15-121. — Kevin Talbert, Ashland

Please vote yes for the Family Farms Measure 15-119.

The Rogue Valley has a rich agricultural legacy that is worth preserving and fostering. We know several small farms that grow seed for seed suppliers and the GMO cross-pollination/contamination issues are serious and threaten their livelihoods and their land.

The USA is compromising international trade options by allowing GMO crops. Many developed countries do not allow these crops to be imported. Why limit our trade options through decisions made by corporate patent farming practices?

Vote yes on Family Farms Measure 15-119. — M. Hayes, Ashland

Local elections should be decided by locals. In our elections we should be skeptical of non-locals, particularly outside corporations who stand to profit from an outcome.

Supporting the GMO ban are 630 local farms, individuals, granges, businesses, restaurants. They donated $327,000.

Opposing the ban include corporate interests, seed companies and farm bureaus from outside the region. Those in opposition donated $870,000 to defeat the GMO ban. $780,000 — 89 percent — comes from outside the State of Jefferson. $455,000 alone comes from six companies: Monsanto, Dupont, Syngenta, Dow, BASF and Bayer.

Whether you support or oppose the ban, few would say that local elections should be bought and paid for by outside parties. Locals should decide local issues. — Paul Murdoch, Jacksonville

I have known Joel Ockunzzi for several years, and wholeheartedly endorse his candidacy for county commissioner.

While serving on the County Planning Commission with Joel, I have witnessed his common-sense approach to government. With over nine years of unpaid volunteer service, he understands the complexities of our community and is willing to work to make it better.

Joel also has a lengthy history of business and management experience. He will use that experience in business to improve efficiencies at the county level, and will always do what is best for the people of Jackson County.

He is committed to making our county a better place to live. I trust Joel Ockunzzi, and urge you to cast your ballot for him as our next county commissioner. — Craig Prewitt, Medford

Please vote for Rick Dyer for county commissioner.

I have known Rick for several years and he always takes a practical approach to solving problems. Rick's greatest strength may be his sense of fairness as he listens to everyone's point of view, even though he may not agree with the person's position.

Rick also has tremendous energy. Even though he has a full-time job running his general contracting business, he has served on the Rogue Valley Transportation District and coached countless youth baseball, football and basketball teams over the years. In summary, Rick is exactly the person we need to represent us as a Jackson County commissioner. — Ryan J. Vanderhoof, Medford

Colleen Roberts is my choice for county commissioner. We need to shake things up and have our voices heard in county government, and I'm convinced that Colleen Roberts is the person for the job.

As a small-business owner, Colleen understands the negative impact of over-regulation. She will be a welcome voice in county government, speaking for all the other small business owners in our area. Colleen further understands the critical importance of county commissioners using "coordination" with the federal government on issues of how federal lands in our county are used. Coordination is a valuable tool, but it's a wasted opportunity if our leaders are uninterested or unwilling to initiate the process.

Most importantly, however, Colleen values a culture of life. In opposing abortion, she demonstrates the moral clarity and good judgment that we desperately need. I urge you to vote for Colleen Roberts. — Kristin O'Driscoll, Jacksonville

According to your May 1 article, one of the key findings of the panel that reviewed Ballot Measure 15-119 was that "the large majority of mainstream science and health groups support GMO crops' safety and benefits." Their next finding was that "GMO crops ... result in "significant increases in herbicide use that ultimately ends up in our food, water, and children." Whose definition of safe and beneficial is that? It certainly isn't mine. — Katy Mallams, Central Point

As we come up to the election, this is a reminder. Per the Mail Tribune, Jackson County voters approved a bond measure to fund the construction of 15 new libraries in the year 2000. This bond will not be paid off until 2020. These buildings cannot be used for anything other than libraries due to the stipulations of the bond. From Prospect to Ashland, it just makes good sense to keep these buildings open to all. Libraries are community. — Katherine Leppek, Medford

I have decided to vote against 15-119. Not because I want more Roundup sprayed in the county. Not for lack of sympathy for organic gardeners whose crops are threatened by contamination. But because this proposition is like banning "medicine" because Thalidomide is a terrible drug.

It would ban use of GMO to aid in cleanup of toxic waste. It would ban use of these organisms to convert agriculture and timber waste into biofuels or other products. It would ban growth of human insulin and other drugs using GMO. It would prevent use of these technologies to protect against the inevitable spread of pathogens in our global economy (Think of the American elm and chestnut).

Instead of banning all GMO, we should create legislation that protects us from the abuses while allowing the benefits. — Warren O. Wilderson, Eagle Point

I have been on the fence about ballot measure 15-119, the GMO measure. I sympathized with the organic farmers, but did not want to take another farmer's right to grow what he or she wants on his or her land.

After reading the review panel's findings, it is easier for me to vote yes on 15-119. My interpretation is that costly contamination will occur. Most GMO crops are planted mainly by out-of-state conglomerates. — Robert Soltz, Medford