FRAC SAND INDUSTRY
If we proceed, let’s do so with due care
Hoorah for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Winona County for putting pressure on the fast-growing frac-sand industry (“In a first, state calls for sand risk study,” Feb. 8). We need to have a better understanding of how this industry will impact the environment both today and in the future.
Winona is not far from Root Valley, home to the most diverse ecosystem in the entire Upper Midwest. New species of plants and wildlife are still being discovered here — just ask Meadlowlark Restorations, a grass-roots organization racing to capture and identify these species before the effects of a changing climate takes their toll.
Minnesota is a beautiful place to live because we understand the importance of protecting what remains of our natural resources, including lakes, rivers, woodlands and prairies. We know so much more today about how to protect and restore these resources — it would be a shame not to apply this knowledge as new industries come along.
Julia Vanatta, Minneapolis
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SCIENCE AND POLICY
In the case of rice, modification unneeded
A recent commentary (“Science denial …,” Feb. 28) took environmentalists to task for not just bad science but for espousing positions that lead to global malnutrition. I think a closer reading of the facts could be helpful.
With respect to genetically engineered “golden” rice, the chief complaint most environmentalists had was that it simply wasn’t necessary: A solution already existed in the form of common brown rice. The brown rice that is universally available contains all the nutrients missing in white rice.
The problem is and was cultural: Many Asians have a disdain for anything but white rice. So, instead of trying to overcome this cultural bias through education, the world looked to technology companies to offer their usual Faustian bargain: Let us engineer a costly solution that you will become dependent upon and that will make us lots of money.
From a public-policy standpoint, this approach seems like using a shotgun to kill a mosquito. But perhaps that’s just me. In any event, it would have been nice if the writer had presented more of the back story.
James Allard, Falcon Heights
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Credit students for making a fresh start
I was a listening adult at the recent South High student forum that followed a brawl fueled by ethnic tensions. The spaghetti dinner and discussion was the idea of students and organized by students in the s.t.a.r.t. program (students together allied for racial trust). The library room was filled to capacity. Adults could only listen. Students did all the speaking, in answer to a set of student questions designed to bring out emotions, feelings and ideas for change. There was enough time for almost all of the students to say something — the comments clearly came from the heart! It was an amazing evening!