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Vote yes on 15-119. Take advantage of this golden opportunity to be the only genetically-engineered-free county in Oregon. With the popularity of organic foods in the U.S. and abroad, Jackson County could have a corner on the market in Oregon. The potential financial benefits are huge.

Organic farming techniques are important for a healthy environment. It's hard to imagine anyone wanting to consume crops that have been sprayed with herbicides and pesticides, or feeding sprayed GE crops to horses and other livestock.

Research chromosome doubling technology. Ask your doctors about GE crops and increased exposure to herbicides and pesticides. If you feel that herbicides and pesticides are not really a problem, ask the people from Triangle Lake and Cedar Valley how they feel about their exposure to these chemicals.

Don't be fooled by big-business advertisements. Please vote yes for the health and prosperity of Jackson County. — Jen and Larry Walloch, White City

As a retired sergeant for the Jackson County Sheriff's Department I would like to publicly endorse Bob Sergi for Jackson County sheriff. I've known Bob for over 25 years since starting as a young patrol deputy and then advancing himself over the years with the Medford Police Department and then back with the Sheriff's Department. He is a man of integrity and high moral standards, which will serve our county well. — Richard Allen, retired Jackson County patrol sergeant

When considering Family Farms Measure 15-119, don't be misled into thinking this measure has anything to do with hybrids — the combination of different varieties of an organism, whether of roses or cows, that has occurred for generations to improve species.

GMOs are totally different: genetically engineered in chemical labs by literally shooting a totally foreign DNA into a seed. Did you ever see a cross between a fish and a tomato occur in nature? But biochemical labs like Monsanto and Syngenta can make such things happen.

Protect the property rights of our 170-plus family farms from contamination of their crops and threat of suits by a Swiss chemical corporation exploiting our fertile land for their genetically engineered crops that are banned in Switzerland and many other countries.

Vote yes on Measure 15-119 for our families, farms, environment (GMOs are herbicide- and pesticide-laden) and quality of life in beautiful Jackson County. — Irwin Chanotin, Medford

The United States is paying farmers not to plant; there are 30 million plus acres now idled under that program. I don't buy that GMO sugar beets will feed the world. — Jason Hord, Jacksonville

Having read two letters regarding the GMO issue in your Election Letters section of Saturday, May 3, I have to conclude, sadly, that ignorance and anti-business fervor are powerful political weapons.

As your paper has previously reported, and others such as MIT's Technology Review magazine (Jan.-Feb. 2014) have done, there is no scientific evidence of any deleterious effects from GMOs. To the contrary, enhancements have increased yields and added protection from pesticides and the elements to many edible plants.

Unfortunately, in order to learn such facts, one must not be so biased toward a certain view of the world that no other view can be considered. The next time those opposing genetic engineering need life-saving medicines created through biotechnology, they should at least apologize. — Eliseo Gonzalez-Urien, Ashland

Please vote yes on 15-119 to ban GMOs in Jackson County. There is enough controversy — scientific controversy — on the safety and environmental impact of GMOs and enhanced Roundup use that they should not be allowed in Jackson County.

The latest controversy is that Roundup is implicated in a fatal kidney disease of Third World farmers. There are enough islands in the world where the GMO corporations can experiment to their hearts' content without jeopardizing/trespassing on their neighbor's well-being. If, years down the road, GMOs have proven themselves, we can then make allowances.

The pro-GMOs are using false arguments to scare people into thinking banning GMOs would be costly. But what about the cost if GMOs have their way — contaminated/ruined local farms, more chemical toxins in our food, water, and environment? And what chance would local farmers have in court against the opulent GMO corporations? Send them packing, and vote yes on 15-119! — Tom Clunie, Ashland

With the usual government mindset, our commissioners are focused only on supposed near-term costs that could be associated with Measure 15-119. Where is the foresight and leadership that sees Measure 15-119 as an opportunity to improve the economic viability of our county?

Consider the serious, long-term impacts if Measure 15-119 does not pass.

  • Loss: local seed industry, with national seed contracts.
  • Loss: bees and crops pollinated by bees.
  • Loss: arable land because of super weeds (its happened in the Midwest and Southeast — Google "super weeds GMO").
  • Loss: local, traditional farmers who leave to prevent crop contamination.
  • Loss: tourists looking for clean food and beautiful scenery (not herbicide-sprayed fields).
  • Cost: remediation of soil and water after increased use of more toxic chemicals (from Roundup to 2,4-D).
  • Cost: increased health costs from increased exposure to herbicides and pesticides.

Can these costs even be computed? — Kristina Lefever, Ashland

I recommend a yes vote on Ballot Measure 15-121, which proposes continued funding for the Oregon State University Research and Extension Service in Jackson County.

Through its numerous programs, Extension benefits us all by consistently helping improve our farms, orchards, vineyards, ranches, gardens and forests. It provides state-of-the art research, high-quality educational opportunities available to everyone, site-specific consultations, information transfer tailored to the unique conditions here in southwest Oregon and excellent social programs like 4-H, Land Stewards and Master Gardeners.

As a forester, plant pathologist and entomologist, I have interacted professionally with members of the Jackson County Extension Service staff while I was working and in retirement. I have been exceedingly impressed by their outstanding expertise, high level of enthusiasm and strong work ethic.

The Extension staff in Jackson County is very highly regarded; it is probably the best in the state. We need to keep them working for us. — Donald J. Goheen, PhD, Jacksonville

GMO foods are safe and well-tested, the industry tells us. What else has industry assured us is safe?

Well, there were cigarettes, DES, lead, BPA, Avandia, DDT, Agent Orange, Fen-Fen, thalidomide, dioxin, PCBs, asbestos, radium, benzene, food dyes, atrazine and more. The list is long.

Essentially, testing by industry is self-policed to ensure that bad results are suppressed. Once the product is released into the public and the damage becomes too great to ignore, then some compensatory regulation occurs.

Are GMOs safe? Industry says so. How will GMOs be tested? Look in the mirror. You are the long-term test rat. Measure 15-119 offers Jackson County a choice in participation. — Steve Soar, Medford