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letters to the editor 3/22/02

March 22, 2002

Stay away from engineered seed

To the editor:

I am writing this letter to urge all farmers to avoid planting genetically engineered seed. I urge the farmers to stop using these seeds for both moral and economic reasons. The reasons are as follows:

1) The international markets do not want genetically engineered foods and our storage and processing infrastructure is not capable of separating genetically engineered and non-genetically engineered crops (remember starlink corn?). This drives down the price farmers receive for their crops.

2) Because the pollen from the genetically engineered groups can drift onto other farmers fields and contaminate their fields. The adjacent farmer would no longer be able to sell his crop at the premium price commanded by non-genetically engineered crops. This farmer may then have cause to sue the farmer that contaminated his non-GE crop.

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3) Genetically engineered crops are not proven safe. I do not believe that our present corporate controlled FDA and USDA regulators can be trusted. The revolving door between corporations and regulators has been spinning off the hinges. For example: A seed company lobbiest becomes an FDA regulator and approves his former employer's genetically engineered product rBGH (rBGH has been banned in all countries except the U.S.).

4) GE is not the same as traditional plant breeding. The species barrier cannot be crossed through traditional breeding techniques (you cannot make a fish and a strawberry breed). It is arrogant to believe that we can fully understand the consequences of engineering plants across the species barrier.

5) The unintended side effects are not known and cannot be fixed once the gene pool is contaminated. The monarch butterfly is negatively affected (is less, or unable to reproduce) by the pollen from genetically engineered corn.

Though this danger may be over stated by the opponents of genetically engineered food, it does show that the best minds and institutions involved in genetically engineered research cannot predict or even anticipate the outcome of releasing these organisms into the environment.

The potential for super pests (pesticide resistant insects) is increased as the acreage of genetically engineered crops increases. Herbicide resistant weeds have already appeared as a result of cross pollination with wild relatives of rape seed.

The farmer who plants altered corn and follows with altered soybeans will have a corn problem in his soybeans. For these and many other reasons I urge the farmers who read this to choose one of the many fine non-genetically engineered seeds available from his local seed supplier. Thank you for considering my plea.

Joe Lane

Smithsburg




A good read

To the editor:

On March 1, Bester Elementary School celebrated Read Across America Day. Students engaged in many exciting reading activities throughout the day, and even had a special visit from "The Cat in the Hat." Many students expressed an interest in having guest readers from the community come to Bester and read to classes.

As a member of the Read Across America Committee, I contacted our three law enforcement agencies and Mayor Breichner to invite them to be guest readers. I would personally like to thank the following people for coming to Bester and reading to our students. First, Sergeant Leatherman of the Washington County Sheriff's Department asked for volunteers, and three guest readers came to Bester: Cpl. Danny Faith, Investigator Chris Weaver and Dfc. Tracy Peyton. Lieutenant Tom Alexander and Officer Shiffler from the Hagerstown City Police came to Bester in the morning to read to some fourth grade students. Tfc. Kyle George from the Hagerstown barrack of the Maryland State Police spent the entire day at Bester.

Corrections officer, J.J. Gulck, from the Allegany County Detention Center read to a class in the morning. Mayor Breichner came and spoke to two classes during our celebration. These people from our community shared their time with our students to make Read Across America a memorable day for the students. Several parents came in and volunteered their time as well. Their support and efforts are greatly appreciated.

Once again, I would like to thank these people on behalf of the faculty and students at Bester Elementary School for helping us celebrate Read Across America Day.

Kellee Gulck

Bester Elementary School

Hagerstown

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