September 20, 2012

Letters to the editor: Organic food good for overall health

A front-page story on Sept. 6, "Studies reveal raw truths on organic foods," detailing a study released Sept. 4 by two Stanford doctors that compares organic with conventional farming, is hardly front-page news and is misleading at best.

click image to enlarge

Organic foods like these melons at a Portland farmers market are chosen by many who want to avoid toxins.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

The review of 236 research papers, 17 studies and six random clinical trials claims to show little statistical difference in the nutritional value of growing methods.

I wonder where and when these papers and studies were done, who financed them and why levels of toxins were not included.

When choosing food these days, we are forced to choose between expensive "clean" food (organic) or conventionally grown food that can be laden with toxic levels of pesticides, fertilizer and unlabeled GMO foods that have had their DNA altered with bacteria and other species.

Monsanto, Dow, Bayer and BASF have all asked for approval of Round-Up-ready seeds that contain bacteria to keep the plant from dying when it is sprayed with Round-Up insecticide.

But industry studies from the 1980s (including one actually paid for by Monsanto) show that glyphosate, the main ingredient in Round-Up, has been proven to cause birth defects.

We choose organic not just for our health, but for the health of our children and the planet.

We are not fooled by questionable "studies" even if they are given misleading titles and put on the front page.

Elizabeth Kellett

Walpole

Kevin Battle would serve South Portland voters well

The voters of South Portland have an opportune time to elect to the Maine House of Representatives a time-tested, hardworking, honest community servant this fall.

Kevin Battle has always answered the call in South Portland and his country as well. He served 22 years combined active and reserve duty in the Coast Guard, 27 years as a South Portland police officer and currently serves as deputy harbormaster for the Port of Portland.

He is a three-term president of the South Portland Lions Club. Through the years, Battle has been involved with several community charities, including Camp Sunshine, the Boys & Girls Club, the American Cancer Society, Project DARE and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Battle and his wife have been married more than 30 years and have two sons.

If elected to the House of Representatives, he would like to reduce taxes, provide schools with the resources they need and encourage business-friendly governmental practices.

Patrick Eisenhart

Augusta

Teachers deserve thanks, not the disrespect they get

Hard times in our country. People and budgets everywhere stressed. Some elected officials use our difficulties as a reason to vilify public employees, particularly teachers, or so it seems to me.

I have a grandson who just entered Mahoney Middle School in South Portland. A couple of weeks ago I attended an open house at Mahoney, listened to introductions in the auditorium, then went around to classrooms with him and his family to meet his teachers. I was both pleased and impressed with the caring, creativity and enthusiasm I detected in each of these teachers.

This same grandson spent the previous two years, fourth and fifth grades, at Brown Elementary in South Portland. During this time I met with his teachers on a number of occasions, was impressed with their dedication and believe they did an excellent job.

Some few professions offer the possibility to give such life-changing help, guidance, enthusiasm and learning to others. It is such an honorable and important profession.

Thanks, teachers.

John Kruger

Windham

More stimulus spending would help the unemployed

This is in response to Bill Thornton's letter of Aug. 26 ("Economics commentary strikes out"). I challenge Mr. Thornton's main thrust, which is that the greatest threat Americans now face is federal debt, and, therefore, federal spending must be reined in. Our greatest threat today is not federal debt. It is mass unemployment and the mass suffering this unemployment is causing. Thirteen million people are unemployed.

Americans are unemployed because Americans aren't spending, and understandably so. Prior to the crash of 2008, American households went on a borrowing spree. When these households realized they were heavily in debt, they stopped spending, which is good, although only up to a point. Because when millions of citizens stop spending, millions of citizens are without income.

Everybody slashing spending at the same time is self-defeating.

America needs somebody to step in and play the role of spender, and that somebody is the federal government. President Obama's economic stimulus was broadly ineffective only because it was too small and too short-lived.

It is time to take action again, to borrow again. The markets are more than willing to lend to the U.S. government on a long-term basis. As I write, the interest rate on 10-year bonds is 1.68 percent -- very attractive.

The money we could safely borrow could put 2 million people immediately to work at the state and local levels as cops, firefighters and, above all, schoolteachers.

This spending alone could drop the unemployment rate to 6.5 percent. With reasonable government spending, we could be back to robust employment across America in two years.

Of course, for this to have even a speck of a chance, we must re-elect President Obama. I believe Mr. Thornton's austerity prescription, which is in lockstep with current Republican ideology, will only increase our suffering.

Philip Davis

Gorham

Licenses for bicyclists might improve safety

Today I almost hit a cyclist who ran a stop sign and cut in front of me. I blew the horn at him and he gave me the finger. Had this been a car, it would have been a sure collision.

With so many cyclists on the road, and many with a sense of entitlement who refuse to obey the rules, isn't it time we considered licensing and taxing them the same as motorists for the privilege?

Carmen Melito

Yarmouth

 

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