Letters to the editor – May 30, 2013

LEAVE ALFALFA ALONE

Re: ‘Biotechnology opposition off base’, WP May 2 op-ed.

My childhood was spent pitching thousands of alfalfa hay bales. Alfalfa farming was the family income.

It’s time for me to present an opinion that sheds light on medicago sativa.

I am not opposed to enhanced seed innovation for annuals because the life cycle of the plant is aggressively geared for a single effort to produce a crop of whatever.

I do strongly hesitate and am opposed to the biotechnology focus on modifying one of the most powerful nitrogen-fixers of all legumes.

A well-managed mature crop of alfalfa can extract 240 pounds of nitrogen per acre from the atmosphere in a growing season.

Alfalfa cannot be grown in a hardpan or an underlying rock layer. This perennial legume needs a deep soil because of its massive root system.

No amount of genetic innovation can change the sedimentary geology nor change the physiographic region of where alfalfa can best grow.

A root depth of 20 to 30 feet is average with exceptions of more than 100 feet. This deep rooting ability is the source of its nutritional power.

Alfalfa needs a deep mineral rich subsoil which has not been depleted, hence the iceberg root system which takes many years to develop. It is certainly not a rotational crop.

Harvesting alfalfa before the flowering state would inhibit its nutritional power. Alfalfa’s core mineral is iron, and it is also an excellent source of phosphorus, potassium and magnesium.

These components are optimum when the plant is at bloom and before seeds are developed.

Growing a good crop of alfalfa is a long-term strategy. Managing the first initial seeding with a shade cover crop such as oats is crucial for establishing a healthy root system.

The allelochemics of this plant make it relatively drought tolerant while sheltering other plants during dry spells.

As a trap crop, it draws lygus bugs away from cotton and is an excellent activator for composting. The racehorse stables required the high nutritional value from the hay our family produced.

To present this plant as a new enhanced performer because of the innovations of agribiotech applications, in my opinion, is a well-calculated myth.

Passing off this perennial as a new GM crop with the benefits of an annual is my take on what is not being reported. I’ll plainly suggest this is a plant to be left alone as is.

Dale Peterson,
Horticulture grad,
Thompson Rivers University,
Kinsella, Alta.

THREAT TO MEDICARE

Why are people not more concerned about the push of various groups and individuals for more privatization of our precious medicare?

After (former prime minister Paul) Martin allowed the first private clinic, they have proliferated at an alarming rate. This does nothing to make the cost of medical care more affordable and only adds dissatisfaction be-cause of the shortage of doctors who are willing to work under the allowed system and the long waiting periods involved.

Then the question remains: why are the medical practitioners, who are duly licensed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons, so accepting of Big Pharma’s manufacturing of the diseases to fit the latest untested whiz pill they have dreamed up — all in the search for ever larger profits?

Jean Sloan,
Lloydminster, Sask.

IRRADIATION NEEDED?

Re: Food irradiation – last year’s XL Food Inc. beef recall (Irradiation on approval track, WP April 25).

Are we really sure we need irradiated beef? This will cover up hidden problems. Was not broken down washing equipment and very poor hygiene and cleanliness on the kill floor the prime reason for the E. coli outbreak (in Brooks, Alta.)?

If the meat had been irradiated, the broken down equipment and the gross contamination on the kill floor would still be ongoing.

Marion Giesbrecht,
Red Deer, Alta.

CORPORATE RIGHTS

Welcome to corporate Canada and Saskatchewan, where the grain trade has gone from farmer-owned wheat pools and the Canadian Wheat Board to shareholder-controlled multinational corporations including Glencore, Cargill, Richardson and (Archer Daniels) Midland.

Shareholder and state-owned corporations from France, Germany, Australia, India and China along with Potash Corp. and Cameco are raping Mother Earth of resources.

Canada’s mining corporations in El Salvador, Colombia, India and Africa are described as very disrespectful of workers’ human rights. (Prime minister Stephen) Harper’s government has gutted environmental regulations so corporations are unrestricted in pursuit of wealth.

(Premier Brad) Wall’s Saskatchewan government has hired a wealthy American corporation to overhaul our health care, social services and education.

Its lean — mean — scheme is costly to taxpayers and workers’ rights. (It) has taken crown profits and privatized profit-making assets.

Harper has cut PFRA funding and Wall is scheming to privatize the 52 community pastures with a complete disregard shown for any community initiative to save them.

Noam Chomsky and other knowledgeable writers warn that rights obtained in 1215 when people forced King John to sign the Magna Carta and Charter of the Forest, which protected the commons, society’s source of survival, “are being shredded before our eyes.”

Corporations see the commons as commodities for privatization. Rights guaranteed by habeas corpus in 1679, safeguarding our liberty, are dismantled.

Investor rights regime considers those wishing to preserve communities as criminals.

Business encourages citizens to consume unnecessary commodities.

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World predicted a people consumed with boundless credit and cheap goods. George Orwell’s 1984 predicted a world of fear, permanent war and non-negotiating nations dependent on military powers. Sound familiar?

Joan Bell,
Saskatoon, Sask.

NEW EMPEROR

Now that the corporate controlled media has their Liberal darling, we can expect them to adorn him with the robes of an emperor in preparation for anointing him as ruler of the domain after the 2015 federal election.

Those who control the levers of power in Canada are very clever at deceiving voters into believing that they vote for change. In my view, the only difference between the two Canadian right wing parties is that when one is in power, the other is out.

William Dascavich,
Edmonton, Alta.

PST REBELLION

The people of Manitoba are rebelling the hike of PST. A much better and more acceptable method of (taxation) would be a small percentage increase on a personal income basis.

Higher incomes/lower incomes would pay accordingly, but not at the expense of everybody and especially the low income earners, as the PST is an all inclusive tax.

This type of heavy-handed action by the (premier Greg) Selinger government is symbolic of recent arrogant action by Ottawa that circumvented and flouted the existing laws that contributed to the demise of the former Canadian Wheat Board.

The comparison is unmistakable and obvious. Yet, as reported in the Winnipeg Free Press (June 13/ 2011), premier Selinger personally launched a campaign to save the CWB, leaving me and many others to believe that he was also perturbed and aware that lawful procedures were being put aside and ignored.

This unethical action further supports my personal view that there are two sets of laws in Canada: one for the general public and one for government to disregard when they desire.

John Fefchak,
Virden, Man.

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