Genetic engineering won't change realities of pork...

Letters to the Editor

July 10, 1999

Genetic engineering won't change realities of pork production

Unlike the cute pigs featured in The Sun's article about genetically engineering pigs, "Altering pigs for less pollution" (June 29), descendants of the transgenic "Enviropigs" would be nameless numbers in a ruthless, death-dealing business.

Rather than finding clever ways to perpetuate the pig industry, we should seek to shift public appetites toward a diet without animal products. Such a change would solve the environmental problems animal agriculture causes, bolster human health and curtail animal suffering.

People need to realize the reality behind pork products. Last October, I helped rescue 167 pigs who had been bound from a North Carolina factory farm to a Pennsylvania slaughterhouse.

They were crammed, obviously terrified, into a triple-tiered truck that had been abandoned on a Washington street.

As they came down our hastily built wooden ramp, those pigs experienced fresh air, liberty and soil under their feet for the first time in their lives.

"Enviropigs," like the millions of other factory-farmed pigs, will enjoy no such fate.

They will live miserably and die cruelly in a way that causes our environment to deteriorate. Many of those eating pig meat will suffer serious illnesses.

Jennifer Drone Washington

The writer is a member of Compassion over Killing.

Better manure can't make sow's lot into silk purse

I guess mad scientists aren't confined to B-movies. Some apparently work at Canada's University of Guelph. Experiments to create "transgenic" pigs whose dung is a tad lower in water-befouling phosphorous are surely a mad scheme.

"Enviropig"' manure could even smell like roses or citrus, but that wouldn't change a basic truth: That the production and consumption of pigs and other animals is terrible for this planet, our health and the animals.

From water usage and pollution to heart disease to cruel animal slaughter, animal agriculture is a losing proposition.

Instead of wasting time, money and effort concocting pseudo-solutions, our best academic brains should be working on ways to encourage widespread adoption of a healthy vegan diet.

Stephanie A. Sarkis Takoma Park

Weighing the social costs of sprawling development

Thomas Sowell's Opinion Commentary column "Suburban sprawl a volley in nation's cultural war" (June 3) was breathtaking in its omissions.

His premise, that it ought not to be anybody's business -- least of all government's -- if people build in suburbia is faulty. As suburbs expand into previously undeveloped areas, government (and all of us as taxpayers) always subsidizes the new development.

Initially this may take the form of roads, schools and mortgage interest deductions, but eventually the full panoply of government services follow.

Mr. Sowell's suggestion that suburban sprawl is, "a volley in the nation's cultural war," is over-simplified. Some of the most tenacious efforts to obstruct sprawl have been waged by well-to-do, conservative communities lobbying to block further development in their areas.

Growth needs to occur, but in a beneficial form. Maybe the question to ask is, what kind of society we want for ourselves and our children and grandchildren.

In this context, the costs and links between growth, the environment and the overall quality of life need to be weighed very carefully.

Charles A. Ferraro Baltimore

Don't let rest of county go the way of White Marsh

Congratulations to the Falls Road Community Association for refusing to grant Melvin Benhoff Jr. and his northern Baltimore County Ivy Manor development a right of way to a public road in Hunt Valley ("Irked neighbors try leaving developer no way out," June 30).

Mr. Benhoff, like many developers in Baltimore County, apparently believes he can buy up tracts of land that don't have a right-of-way and then ask for special exceptions -- in this case, an easement -- that allow him to cross private properties.

Many of us in northern Baltimore County are fed up with county politicians who often side with developers and skirt the rules. County Executive Dutch Ruppersberger and zoning head Arnold Jablon are developer-friendly and seldom support the community associations.

Variances, easements and special exceptions are rampant in Baltimore County. Unless more people stand up to developers, they will ruin our area just like they did Owings Mills and White Marsh.

David Boyd White Hall

The writer is president of the Wiseburg Community Association.

Mencken helped Jews escape Nazi persecution

Gary Sheridan's accusation that H. L. Mencken was a "raging anti-Semite" is false and a disservice to a great Marylander ("Mencken's anti-Semitism should have kept him off list," letters, July 2).

That claim has been rebutted by numerous scholars, most recently by Jack Sanders in his book "Do You Remember?" published last year by the Maryland Historical Society.

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