Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

October 21, 2007

Permits, inspections can curb the waste

Thank you for making excessive pollution from the poultry industry front-page news once again ("An environmental game of chicken," Oct. 14).

Each year, millions of pounds of nitrogen are flushed into the Chesapeake Bay, creating dead zones where almost nothing can survive.

We must do more to reduce this pollution.

Maryland's laws governing the poultry industry are clearly inadequate, and I salute Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration for stating its intention to regulate this industry the same way that other major sources of water pollution are regulated.

A farmer quoted in The Sun's article said that since voluntary rules were put in place a decade ago, "the majority of farmers are now very cautious about their manure management."

That's probably true. But what about the minority of farmers who are not so cautious?

The state has no effective system for identifying those farmers and forcing them to reduce their pollution.

Without much greater transparency and accountability in waste management, pollution levels will remain high and all farmers will get blamed for the problem.

For the sake of the bay, we need a system of binding permits for everyone who handles poultry manure and regular inspections to identify those who are breaking the law.

Brad Heavner

Baltimore

The writer is state director for Environment Maryland.

Poultry producers imperil bay's bounty

Tom Pelton's article about the poultry industry struck a note with me and with everyone I talked to last Sunday ("An environmental game of chicken," Oct. 14).

Why should all the benefits of the Chesapeake Bay be endangered by the runoff from the Eastern Shore chicken farms?

Dairy farmers and hog farmers live with restrictions; why can't an intelligent program be put in place to control the waste from chicken farms?

Don't we have bold, thoughtful legislators who could work out a solution to this problem?

Mary Hewes

Baltimore

Industrial farms must be regulated

I applaud The Sun and the O'Malley administration for bringing to light the important issues surrounding the regulation of industrial-size chicken farms ("An environmental game of chicken," Oct. 14).

The way food animals are raised is quickly becoming an inconvenient truth.

The majority of the animal protein we eat comes from animals raised on industrial complexes, not the bucolic farms often portrayed in commercials and other advertisements.

Industrial farm animal production has developed over the last 50 years with little regulation and little public involvement.

Industrial animal production results in relatively inexpensive and plentiful quantities of animal protein.

However, it comes with costs to the environment, with health issues for industry workers and local communities and with a lack of regard for the well-being of animals.

Although the animals are generally healthy and productive (i.e., they grow quickly, produce lots of eggs, etc.), in most cases, the quality of life for the animals is minimal.

Cramming animals together in large houses by the thousands or in small cages (gestation crates for pigs and tiny cages for egg-laying hens) prevents them from performing normal behavioral activities and can cause them to develop abnormal behaviors.

It's important to view these large animal production facilities as industries.

They should be appropriately regulated to enhance, not destroy, the environment, protect public health, prevent disease and provide for the animals' well-being.

Alan M. Goldberg

Baltimore

The writer is a professor of toxicology and director of the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Tens of billions now flow to the Pentagon

Jack Shanahan's column questioning the size of the defense budget and our spending in Iraq and Afghanistan ("What could we do with $700 billion?" Opinion

Commentary, Oct. 15) reminded me of former Sen. Everett Dirksen's famous reported remark about the federal budget - "a billion here and a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking real money."

Unfortunately, today, it's tens of billions here and tens of billions there.

Leon Reinstein

Baltimore

Don't protect sources who damage security

In the editorial "In search of a shield" (Oct. 15), it appears that The Sun's editors were again wearing their best left-looking glasses.

The editorial supports the concept of a "shield law" to protect journalists and their sources.

The editorial does magnanimously point out that journalists perhaps should not be able to "protect terrorists or those intent on otherwise threatening human life."

Unfortunately, The Sun's editors ignore the most important reason that journalists might be hauled into court and prosecuted - for failing to reveal the sources that provide information that could threaten the life of every person in this country.

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