Letters to the Editor

Agriculture, vaccines, specialty drugs, propaganda, plane seats

Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program for the Department of Water Resources, points to a mark on a snowpack-measuring pole on April 1 to Gov. Jerry Brown and DWR Director Mark Cowin, right.
Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program for the Department of Water Resources, points to a mark on a snowpack-measuring pole on April 1 to Gov. Jerry Brown and DWR Director Mark Cowin, right. The Associated Press

Benefits of agriculture

Re “Farmers push back against water bashing” (Page A1, April 10): There has been very much attention focused upon the amount of water used by California’s farmers and ranchers to produce the food and fiber consumed by the people of our state, this nation and the world. The amount of water used for agriculture is compared to water utilized for urban uses. However, the production resulting from California’s agriculturalists is seldom recognized.

In 2013, California produced nearly half the nation’s fruits, vegetables and nuts. In 2011, California’s farmers and ranchers led all of the states in the production of 98 crops, including fruits, vegetables and nuts, and livestock commodities, including milk. This increased to 99 commodities in 2012. Furthermore, California produced virtually all of 14 crops including raisin grapes, Clingstone peaches, sweet rice, dried plums, olives, dates and kiwifruit.

While many nations do not have adequate food supplies, America has an abundance thanks in large part to California.

Michael P. Krug, Sacramento

Water chief’s remarks shocking

Re “Stretch urban water before hitting farms” (Viewpoints, April 9): I read the commentary by Mark Cowin, and before reaching the end assumed that he was a lobbyist for the farm industries. His comment that “it is not the proper role of the state to tell farmers what to grow” is shocking, especially since he is director of the California Department of Water Resources, whose stated mission is in part to “manage water resources to benefit the state’s people.”

Apparently, he thinks that it is OK for the state to tell consumers how much water they can have to drink and wash with, but not OK for the state to place any restrictions on the farmers. We know that some farmers choose the more profitable crops. We know that some farmers use inefficient irrigation techniques.

Cowin should consider revising the mission statement of the Department of Water Resources to more accurately reflect the political reality.

Douglas Peter, Sacramento

No debate needed on vaccines

Re “Vaccines require civil debate” (Letters, April 10): I believe having a “scientifically validated” point of view entitles The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board to be strident in its position. Regarding the educated but doubting parents, I would recommend not to conflate education with wisdom. While certainly informed, their choice of an information source is dubious.

I agree that we are a country which holds individual rights as sacrosanct; however, those rights end where the rights of others are infringed. What of the rights of immune-suppressed children? Haven’t they the right to attend school without fear of illness or death? Vaccinated children have no choice. Why should they be imperiled by the baseless reasons and fears of misguided parents who do? Scientific studies, domestically and internationally, have proved vaccines to be safe and effective. Schools must be concerned with the safety of all children based on facts, not on conjecture or paranoia.

Richard Brown, Orangevale

It’s a different marketplace

Re “High price of specialty drugs stirs outrage” (Page A1, April 5): Spending on prescription medicines has accounted for 10 percent of health care spending, even though biopharmaceutical companies have brought more than 500 medicines to patients since 2000. That’s because the marketplace for prescription medicines is unlike any other part of the U.S. health care system.

Companies typically face competition from competing brand medicines within two years of coming on the market. And once patents end, brand medicines then face competition from lower-cost generics. We have seen this play out with new hepatitis C medicines where insurers and pharmacy benefit managers have used competition in the marketplace to negotiate deep discounts from manufacturers.

It is disingenuous to focus solely on the list price of a medicine while ignoring the marketplace for prescription drugs that has enabled tremendous progress against some of the most costly and debilitating diseases.

Merrill R. Jacobs, vice president,

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America

Propaganda isn’t nonpartisan

Re “California ranks 44th on economic scale” (Business, April 9): As I read this “news” item, I was shocked by the listing of the bottom five states, so I checked the top five and realized this could only have been a report propagated by a conservative organization. Sure enough, it was spawned by the American Legislative Exchange Council, an ultra-right organization funded by the Koch brothers, the hard right-wing billionaires, to do their bidding. The Bee should never use their propaganda and label them as a nonpartisan association.

Alice Hendrix, Orangevale

Outrageous demands

Re “Debate flies over seats, religion on airplanes” (Page A8, April 10): In regard to the article about a conservative Jewish man refusing to sit next to a woman on a plane due to his religious beliefs, I would like to point out that airplanes are a means of public transportation.

Thus, you pay for one seat and may only occupy that seat. If you are unhappy with the seat and wish to move, then do so, but do not ask another paying customer to vacate theirs because you prefer not to sit next to them.

If a person fears that they might not be able to control their passions on a public conveyance, then they must find a seat where that will not be a problem; no one else is obligated to accommodate them. Women often cooperate rather than make a scene, but no one should ever give in to such outrageous demands.

Ann Gibson, Folsom

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