Thursday, December 02, 2004


Making other people pay for Greenie preferences seems like it is coming to an end

Over the past three decades, Oregon has earned a reputation for having the most restrictive land-use rules in the nation. Housing was grouped in and near the cities, while vast parcels of farmland and forests were untouched by so much as a suburban cul-de-sac. Environmentalists and advocates for "smart growth" cheered the ever-growing list of rules as visionary, while some landowners, timber companies and political allies cried foul.

But in a matter of days, the landowners will get a chance to turn the tables. Under a ballot measure approved on Nov. 2, property owners who can prove that environmental or zoning rules have hurt their investments can force the government to compensate them for the losses - or get an exemption from the rules. Supporters of the measure, which passed 60 percent to 40 percent, call it a landmark in a 30-year battle over property rights. "I've been getting calls from California, Idaho, Washington, Alaska and Wisconsin," said Ross Day, a Portland lawyer for the conservative group Oregonians in Action who co-wrote the law, Ballot Measure 37. "They all want to find out what our secret recipe was to get it passed."

Whatever the benefits of Oregon's land-use rules, Mr. Day added, "the people paying the cost are property owners.... If Enron does something like this, people call it theft," he said. "If Oregon does it, they call it land-use planning."...

Conservatives across the country have championed the idea of compensation for aggrieved landowners since at least the mid-1990's and the 1994 Republican "Contract With America." Four states have laws dating from that period that provide some compensation for affected property owners. "In Oregon, they're serious," said Michael M. Berger, a partner in the Los Angeles law firm of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. "It helps make people sit up and take notice that this is something they have to deal with. This is a big shock to the body politic - it's a very red-state thing to do, and Oregon is very blue, so this shows it cut across everyone."

Both sides expect the measure to survive judicial scrutiny, and the state and local governments are to start fielding claims on Dec. 2. If claims are found to be valid and the government will not or cannot pay, it must instead waive any restrictions that went into force after the owners - or their parents or grandparents - acquired the land.

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GM crops are no more harmful to the environment than conventional plant varieties, a major UK study has found. The Bright project looked at varieties of sugar beet and winter oil-seed rape which had been engineered to make them tolerant of specific herbicides. The novel crops were compared with non-GM cereals grown in rotation. The project concluded that the GM varieties, used in this way, did not deplete the soil of weed seeds needed by many birds and other wildlife.

The findings of the Botanical and Rotational Implications of Genetically Modified Herbicide Tolerance (Bright) Link project were released on Monday. Bright was designed to mimic normal agricultural practice, and measure how these GM crops would perform when used in a typical crop rotation pattern over four years. Not only did the project find no evidence of seed depletion, it also pointed to potential benefits for farmers of growing the GM crops. "What we have shown is that in the case of these two crops, there are ways of managing them which are quite practical, and farmers can deal with them quite readily," the study's scientific co-ordinator Dr Jeremy Sweet told BBC News. "There appear to be some management advantages in the flexibility of the herbicide usage; there could well be cost-benefit advantages, depending on the price of the herbicides and seeds when the crops are commercialised. So there do appear to be a number of reasons why farmers might be quite interested in growing these crops."

However, there is little prospect of GM crops being introduced into the UK in the short-term. Earlier this year another major trial, the Farm-Scale Evaluations or FSEs, found that two GM varieties, a sugar beet and a spring rape, were more damaging to biodiversity than conventional crops. There were fewer insect groups, such as bees and butterflies, recorded among the novel plants. A GM maize, on the other hand, appeared to do better than its conventional cousin. Following the FSE results, Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett announced that companies wishing to bring GM crops into the UK would have to go through a long approval process. Subsequently, Bayer CropScience, the only company with outstanding applications for government permission, withdrew those applications.

Nevertheless, Bright will help biotech companies and proponents of GM agriculture argue that the crops should not be banned on environmental grounds. The European Union has indicated that member countries will in the future have to base decisions on whether or not to permit GM agriculture on science rather than public opinion.....

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Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

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