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Letters for the Week of April 28, 2015

Readers sound off on water conservation, unsafe housing in Oakland, and Roundup.


"Get Creative About Conserving Water," Sustainable Living, 4/15

What About Business Park Lawns?

I enjoyed your article on water conservation. My husband and I have practiced pretty stringent water conservation for years: We re-did our whole yard with low-water plants and use graywater for outdoor watering, and we limit showers, etc. But one massive waste of water really bothers me, even more than the misuse of water by farmers who plant crops where they shouldn't be planted: water used for business landscaping. I work in South San Francisco, near many business parks, and many of them have huge, lush green lawns. These aren't used as parks or for employee recreation — they're just pretty. I see sprinklers on every morning around Genentech, the Embassy Suites Hotel, etc. A few of the businesses or property managers around here are replanting with drought-tolerant plants, but not many. Farmers, even those who planted their crops in the wrong areas, can at least provide food — what does all this landscaping provide besides eye-candy? 

I'd love to see the Express do an exposé on businesses with huge lawns that don't use graywater. (I wonder what the landscaping around Sacramento government buildings looks like?)

Michele Mantynen, El Cerrito

Come On, City Officials

I was very impressed by this edition of the Express, especially the well-researched and very practical articles about water conservation, which is clearly a major issue. This morning I took a shower standing in a large plastic bucket; later I tipped the water into a big barrel in the back yard for use on our veggie patch. I read your publication over breakfast and went for a walk. Imagine my surprise when, a couple of blocks from where I live, I came across a whole array of hoses and spray nozzles spreading water over roadside verges and spaces between houses. There were rainbows. There were dimpling pools on sidewalks. There was even a heron, scanning the soaked grass for tidbits. I assume that this was authorized by the City of Alameda. This deluge took place over at the west end of the city in Alameda Point. Clearly, if we're going to get serious about saving water, our local officials must be seen to be leading the way.

Emmanuel Williams, Alameda

"Takeout Minus the Waste," Sustainable Living, 4/15

Standard Fare, Here I Come

This was the second best news I heard all week! (The first was Hillary Clinton echoing Robert Reich's talking points on her "listening tour"). PS: I'm booking a reservation at Standard Fare pronto!

Laura Morland, Berkeley

"The Hazards of Unsafe Housing in Oakland," News, 4/15

Urbina Is Doing More Harm than Good

Many of us residents at 1919 Market Street feel that Will Urbina has made a difficult situation worse. None of us are in the financial situation (with the exception of Mr Urbina) to make complaints that could jeopardize our living arrangements, even as substandard as they are. We knew what we were getting into when we moved in; that many complaints would go unanswered, that it was potentially unsafe, but this is the reality facing many artists, musicians, and makers living in the Bay Area today. Because of credit issues, employment status, and other personal and financial reasons, many residents here cannot get accepted to live in more "traditional" housing situations. We would all like to live in a place where the roof doesn't leak, where there's heat, or where you can feel safe, but slinging lattes at minimum wage or being a contract driver for every rideshare out there isn't going to get you in that door. It will get you into this one. Mr. Urbina's actions are more than likely going to result in the wholesale displacement of every resident in this building. We have no place to go.

Michael Haltner, Oakland

"The Case For Banning Roundup," Opinion, 4/15

Ritterman Nailed It

A Huge Double Kudos to our own Richmond Jeff Ritterman for the best article on glyphosate and its dangers that I have ever seen, and I read a lot of this stuff. Every reader should clip this and share it widely. Thank you, Jeff! 

Jeffrey Dickemann, Richmond

Monsanto Should Drink Its Own Medicine

Last December, the USDA reported that our food was safe from pesticide residue. More than half the food tested contained toxins, but were within "tolerance levels" set forth by the EPA. But the report also admitted that, like in past analyses, the USDA did not test for glyphosate — the world's most widely used herbicide — citing cost restraints.

Not only do our run regulators fail to even test for the glyphosate toxin, but last year Monsanto requested and received EPA approval for increased tolerance levels for glyphosate. This was due to the fact that the average American was already poisoned with more glyphosate than the previous EPA established tolerance level. Oh, and by the way, Americans and Canadians have ten times more glyphosate in their urine than Europeans, who have (mostly) banned Roundup-ready GMOs.

Also, a recent California study showed that breast-feeding mothers who lived within a mile of Roundup sprayed crops had 600 to 1,100 times the tolerance levels for glyphosate in their breast milk and had three times the occurrence of children with autism.

Roundup — a great product. Have a glass on me Monsanto.

Peter Kleiss, New York City

We Need to Study Roundup's Effects on the Human Gut


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