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Letters

August 9, 2012

Our Readers' Opinions: Aug. 9. 2012

Committee says thanks

On behalf of the 2012 Cooperstown Cotillion Committee, we would like to extend a sincere thanks to the Glimmerglass Festival for its continued support of our program.  

On Thursday, Aug. 2, 46 Cooperstown Central School students attended an excellent performance of Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man” at the opera house.  For many years, the Glimmerglass Festival has hosted our students for a night of dancing in the Thaw Pavilion followed by a performance.  This opportunity exposes our youth to the exciting world of opera and illuminates the cultural experiences in the Cooperstown area. We thank you for a wonderful evening.

Monica Brane and Bennett Sandler

2012 Cotillion Committee Opera Chairs

Writer urges precaution

Regarding the news report of Aug. 2 in which the DOT asserts that spraying Route 80 along the western shore of Otsego Lake is an “acceptable risk,” many of us, alarmed by widespread use of herbicides and pesticides, laud the strong, well-focused efforts by both Mayor Katz and Win McIntyre of the Otsego Lake Watershed.

In our efforts to combat plant and animal intrusions into our lives, we use chemicals that often have not been reliably tested. If no ingredient is known to immediately kill people, it is accepted and used extensively as if there is no tomorrow.

We have been using Roundup and Accord in our village and along Route 80 beside our lake. The primary ingredient of these herbicides is glyphosate. Just Google glyphosate and read beyond the positive initial information. If you keep reading, you fill find disturbing information about glyphosate, such as a recent German university report on the high levels of glyphosate in the urine of subjects exposed to it. While glyphosate is acknowledged to interfere with reproduction of creatures we do not consider important, there is some acknowledgement that its longterm effects on people is not known.

What is puzzling to me is our refusal to act in a precautionary manner. Our village attorney Martin Tillapaugh points out that the underlying principle in the question of herbicide use is that users must demonstrate that harm has been done for its use to be challenged. While it is all too true that we operate on this principle in this country, should we be doing so? It is a parallel to “caveat emptor” – that is, the buyer and user must beware and take the consequences of any product purchased. We have not moved, in our corporate-controlled capitalism, from this ancient market ethic when it comes to pesticides and herbicides. Some countries value people as much as profit margins of corporations and have engendered the market ethic of “caveat venditor” — that is, the seller must beware — and be liable for their products.

I would like to point out that the country north of us, Canada, has adopted the precautionary principle when issues of pesticide and herbicide use are confronted. Their doing so alarmed the chemical industries in the U.S. so much that they successfully lobbied state legislators throughout the U.S. to pass laws that gave the state primary control of pesticide and herbicide use. This prohibited cities, towns and villages from enacting broad-scale bans within their corporate entities. However, those laws do not prohibit the recent ban enacted by our own village to prohibit the use of certain pesticides on the properties it owns and maintains. We hope that this act of adopting the precautionary principle by our village government will be a model for all village residents to do the same.

A demonstration of the precautionary principle can be seen in the film, “A Chemical Reaction,” about a small Canadian town that opted to ban herbicide and pesticide use within the entire town and was defended in doing so by the Supreme Courts of the Province of Quebec and of Canada on the basis of this principle. I shall gladly loan my copies of that film to anyone to see how one small Canadian town began the movement to protect the people and the environment against questionable chemicals and in so doing provoked out of the Canadian legal system this enlightened principle. Can we learn from our neighbors?

Sam Wilcox

Cooperstown


 

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