Letters to the editor – August 16, 2018

Unsafe culture makes workers hard to get

Farm leaders notice new emphasis on ag labour, column by Michael Raine, Western Producer, Aug. 1.

A tad ironic, coming from the rural majority who are anchor members of the United Conservative Party and whose avowed pitchfork-waving promise is to — on day one of a mandate — get rid of recent reforms that treated farm workers as equals to 90 percent of the other workers in our economy — standards of health and safety, employment and wage respect and worker’s compensation coverage.

Even the Producer continues to dismissively write periodically of workers as “hired hands.” In this culture, it’s no surprise that the industry has trouble attracting workers to its rigorous workplaces — workplaces with equipment that is exempt from meeting safeguards focused on injury prevention, unlike as is the case with most non-farm machinery. 

But then there is the permanent/temporary facility to bring transients/foreign workers into the jobs. Transients who, through the indenture of an employer-controllable permit to be here, makes for less worry of comparable competition and can bypass the ethics of respectful standards afforded Canadian citizen employees.

D. A. Taylor
Edmonton, Alta.

Science isn’t always definitive

EU’s gene editing ruling shows disdain for science, WP Editorial, Aug. 2.

The point of view you expressed is not one I share, and for the sake of debate, one I would like to challenge.

The most obvious point for me is that the scientific community is not united in believing genetic editing is a completely understood process, that it is, in fact, safe. For context we need to appreciate the fact that science is, by definition, the understanding of a process, that the life of a seed is a process, which science only partially understands.

From this point of view, I note there are many scientists who feel the genetic manipulation of a seed through technology can be a dangerous path to follow, most notably Don Huber, professor emeritus at Purdue University. I would also like to point out that there are always two sides to a story, as the history of farming and the larger community we live in has shown.

Most recently, there was the BSE crisis where we were told feeding animal brains and spinal cords to herbivores was a safe practice. This we did in spite of a scientist who argued against such a practice.

We were also told that glysophate, once it hit the ground, was completely benign, could never accumulate in the soil, never be absorbed by a plant.

Other misadventures in picking scientific sides include the safety of cigarettes and global warming.

The human species is having a profound effect on the characteristics of this planet Earth. From my point of view, these changes we are inflicting on the planet are often driven by economic opportunity. All too often we see what we want to see, believe what we want to believe, forgetting the underlying truth of science, which is the precautionary principal, a truth it would seem the EU is putting into practice.

Wayne James
Beausejour, Man.


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