Government and your health

It seems that every time the news gets dull, it is livened up with another story of unsanitary conditions in the meatpacking industry. This started about 120 years ago with writers known as muckrakers, and led to Pure Food and Drug laws and federal meat-grading and inspection.

It seems we have a new audience every few years ... that are not reminded that the federal government is deeply involved in protecting the public in this area and has been for many years. Perhaps undocumented and uninspected workers are not health-checked, but work cheap.

As meat is an interstate commerce, it has been a federal responsibility for over a hundred years. Does this record inspire us to let them extend their expertise to our health?

Robert W. Robinson

Sequim, Wash.

Farmer was right to protect himself

I disagree on your sweeping statement about farmers, (through) government error, "being forced out of business," thus needing a plan to plant modified seed. The seed folks that modify and then patent plant seed have shown us what they do.

Your article on Frank Morton, the seed grower, had him stating from his perspective that one bit of modification showing up in testing makes his seeds worthless, so he'd be put out of business because of USDA error. Why is he less valuable than the farmers hyped by the seed companies to plant now?

What is worse is the case you did not mention. If Morton's crop showed any trace of the modified seed, the seed companies would claim the seed as theirs, as they own a patent on the modification. They have done this before in countries where seed is kept from a harvest to plant for the next year when all that has happened was pollen strayed on to the field of a farmer that didn't buy from the seed company. His normal saved seed was seized and taken from him.

That is hardly an action any reasonable farmer would allow, patent law or no patent law. Knowing we are a seed-growing area for many seeds, letting in like species of modified plants without planning for known pollination is wrong.

The court says so. Common sense says so. And anyone depending on the modified seed has not been reading the literature if they expect anything different.

Anyone wanting a wide selection of strains for future research and planting knows that letting in pollen to an air shed shared by "other" seed growers would be worse than PETA insisting that farmers grow coyotes and sheep in the same pasture.

One can predict outcomes from such actions. You also lose the base ability to make seeds locally for local conditions. You lose farmers through actions that they should be protected against.

If you don't protect and stand with Frank Morton, when do they come for you?

Mike Reid

Sheridan, Ore.

On Washington land use

The Oct. 9 article on land rights (and) land-use laws in the West needs a fill-in.

While not identical to California's Williamson Act, the state of Washington under its Washington Code 84.34 also allows agricultural and/or forestland as well as open space to be valued and taxed according to its current use.

This is a huge saving to landowners who otherwise would have to sell their property due to their inability to pay unaffordable taxes.

Maxine Keesling

Woodinville, Wash.

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