To the editor:
I applaud the formation of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce's new Agribusiness Network, described in the Dec. 22 J-W. I find the suggestion for area farmers to grow "genetically modified" crops for the pharmaceutical industry outrageous and shortsighted, however.
For one thing, there is NO knowledge of the long-term damage to our environment and to our bodies of the growth of genetically modified plants. For another, a question: Do farmers want to become serfs to the pharmaceutical industry, even while they are already struggling to get out of debt to the petroleum and chemical industries? That doesn't sound like a wise choice to me.
Our area farmers don't need "an abandoned Quaker Oats plant to capitalize on." They have great agricultural land, "in the garden part of the state," as the article noted. Let them grow great food for our people. Organic produce would strengthen the local economy in so many ways: It doesn't pollute our watershed environment; it saves energy because our food doesn't have to be transported across the country, and the production of it stimulates local employment. And it's healthy for consumers.
Let's think in the long term when it comes to our area farmers, our economy and the blessing of our natural resources.