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Letters 11/1/07

- November 1st, 2007
Foie Gras: Natural?
Thanks for providing a relatively unbiased look at the controversy surrounding foie gras (“Foie Gras,” Rick Coates).
Foie gras is simply an extension of a naturally occurring process. Those who believe gavage to be cruel are anthropomorphizing. Duck physiology is not at all human. As one chef mentioned in the article, ducks do lack a gag reflex. Their esophagi have an insensitive lining, allowing them to swallow large fish and other prey in the wild, and allowing for pain-free hand-feeding.
Additionally, in nature, ducks fatten their livers for energy prior to migration. This effect, in nature and in foie gras farming, is reversible, indicating that that foie gras production does not result in diseased livers.
Independent veterinarians and scientists have studied the process and found it to be humane.
Those who support animal rights rather than animal welfare are dangerously close to shaky moral ground. For animal rights activists, a human life is the same as a duck’s life. This equates the eating of meat with genocide, as evidenced in a campaign by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) called “Holocaust on Your Plate.” The belief that humans are unique is essential to promoting universal human rights. How can eating foie gras be compared the death of millions of innocent humans?
For activists, foie gras is easy to attack, as there are only three small foie gras farms in the United States. But even those of us who do not eat it must keep in mind: animal rights is a slippery slope. These are people who do not even respect the sanctity of human life and will not stop at foie gras.
They’ll have us all eating legumes soon enough.

Charli Henley • Cambridge, MA

Rebel Farmer Praise
Praise beyond measure for Anne Stanton’s article about Charlevoix County’s rebel farmer. Greg’s fight is a fight for the continued existence of small farms in the USA, and I do not exaggerate.
Those of us who have criticized the USDA, MDA, Cooperative Extension and the Land Grant Colleges for their role in the industrialization of American agriculture have been told repeatedly “our work is scale neutral”. The National Animal Identification System shows this clearly to be a lie. To charge $2.50 per bird for the back-yard poultry flock while the big boys pay $2.50 per building creates barriers to competition that we will not over come, and it does so by design.
If this program (NAIS) is not defeated there will be no choice but the kind of industrial agriculture that has brought us E. coli O-157, antibiotic resistant bacteria and the other ills that are the result of a triumph of unethical profits over sound biology and a love for Our Mother Who is the Earth.
Educate yourself and fight back!

Jim Moses • Maple City

Fair Rebel Farmer
Regarding Rebel Cow Farmer - that was the first piece written that was objective and fair. I have followed this issue and personally know everyone in the article. Keep up the good objective work.

Dr. Rich Olree • Hillman
Rebel Farmer Education
The feature article in Northern Express, The Rebel Cow Farmer, was comprehensive and should help educate a lot of people that are having difficulty understanding why it has been so hard to eliminate bovine TB from Michigan when other states are successful whenever they have an incident.
The state will NEVER eradicate bovine TB from the domestic herds (thus returning to USDA accredited free status) until it treats the wild animals with the same vigor that it treats the domestic herds.
The current actions of the Michigan Bovine Eradication Project insures that local small family farms in the affected areas will keep losing money and will be pushed out of business. That is a real tragedy for the farm families. It is an economic problem for the communities, and bad for families that are increasingly moving towards locally produced foods. The state officially wants to encourage local food, wants to promote the resurgences of a local economically viable agriculture, and says that they support small family farms. Their actions with bovine TB speak louder than their words.

Ted Beals, MD • Grass Lake

Lawn Sign Theft
I am thoroughly disheartened to learn of the theft and vandalism of Cadillac mayoral hopeful Bill Barnett’s candidacy signs. Not only are these acts a blatant disregard for the law, they are a slap in the faceof our right to free speech. Particularly in this day and age when our constitutional rights are at great risk, it is important that we respect the right of others to display their opinions and voice their support for whom they choose.
Lawn signs are easily the most visible element of a municipal campaign.They give prominence to a hopeful’s name and offer a visible indication of support to that candidate and his or her platform. Lawn signs are avital part of campaigns, and unfortunately for the candidates, they do not come cheaply.
Unfortunately, there are those that deliberately steal a candidate’s signs because they believe they are helping “their candidate” get elected.
In an age where politics has turned malicious, if a candidate can only get elected through dirty play and illegal activity, he/she certainly is not worth electing in the first place.

Karla A. Smith • Cadillac

Dangerous Measures
I‘ve seen that businesses in one statae have supported dangerous measures (measures that can and do take away funding from public services and disrupt other peoples‘ quality of life) in other states. It just has to stop. Since the Federal Elections Commission can‘t be trusted to do their jobs, I‘d suggest that every citizen organize boycotts against any business or corporation, large or small, whose owners support dangerous measures in any state in this country until they stop doing so.
I know we all remember what happened in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, and just recently in Minneapolis because the money wasn‘t there to strengthen New Orleans‘ levees or Minneapolis‘ I-35W freeway bridge. The worst thing is that people lost their lives in both instances because the local governments simply couldn‘t pay for thet necessary repairs. That‘s how bad dangerous measures can be, so unless we boycott any business that supports dangerous measures, they‘ll just keep doing it at our great expense. Please, let‘s all be wise and do the right thing.

Gretchen Sand • Kennewick, WA

Deadly Radon Gas
Please help me inform the citizens of your state of the deadly effects of radon gas. Radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers and for persons who have ever smoked chances are much greater of developing lung cancer if exposed to high levels of radon gas over a period of years.
The federal government knows about this worldwide threat, but very few of our citizens know anything about radon gas or its harmful effects. Testing for radon gas is very easy. Buying a test kit at the local hardware store and conducting a two or three-day test can determine if a home has high radon gas. If it is 4.0 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L) or higher, it needs to be mitigated according to the Surgeon General. Mitigation is not complicated and can be accomplished in a few hours.
I had no idea what radon gas was and certainly didn‘t think it was in my house. On February 8, 2006, my husband, Joe, died of lung cancer. Joe‘s cancer doctor had told us that smoking and radon gas causes lung cancer.
Joe hadn‘t smoked in 27 years.
On March 8, I saw on TV that Dana Reeves, a nonsmoker, had died of lung cancer. Again radon gas was slightly mentioned as a cause of lung cancer. I tested the house, and found the high levels of 11.2 and 17.6 (pCi/L.) Needless to say, I had it mitigated.
My purpose is to prevent other deaths due to radon by having every house tested for this killer. We can save thousands of lives.

Gloria Linnertz • Waterloo, IL

Traffic Perils
Traffic, traffic, and more traffic has been the concern of Traverse City residents forever. Yet, the current City Commission wants more and taller buildings, more rentals by creating ADUs, and consequently more traffic. Do these people listen?
Apparantly, some members of the City Commission are in denial that city residents are concerned about traffic. Of course, most of the commission has already denied that the people of Traverse City are actually relevant. The people vote 71% one wayy and the commission vote 86% (six to one) the other way.
The “We Listen“ group of Estes, Carruthers, and Budros is the only salvation for this city that I dearly love.

Shirley Forton • TC

“Good Time“ - Good Idea?
Since Michigan spends more on incarceration than higher education, passage of House Bill 4262, reinstating “Good Time“ into the Department of Corrections, should be palatable to both Republicans and Democrats.
“Good Time“ (the time credits earned for positive behavior) is the single best way to achieve rehabilitation while eliminating overcrowding and thus reducing the bloated $1.9 billion M.D.O.C. budget.
Recidivism rates in Michigan exceed 70%. Indiana, through the use of “Good Time,“ incentivizes rehabilitation and achieves a corresponding rate of 39.3%. Furthermore, U.S. Department of Justice studies have determined that “the amount of time inmates serve in prison does not increase or decrease the likelihood of recidivism.“
Clearly, incarceration without rehabilitation is failure by design. The “Good Time“ feature would only apply to non-habitual offenders. Estimates of savings to Michigan taxpayers run as high as $400 million per year, more than 20% of the total state deficit.

Janice Austin • Battle Creek


 
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