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Letters to the Editor 

In your 3/15/01 issue, there is an article by Mike Corrigan about John Mayall and his gig at The Met. In the article, Corrigan states that Eric Clapton went on to join the Yardbirds after his one album stint with Mayall & amp; The Bluesbreakers, circa 1966. This is false; the truth is in reverse. Clapton played in the Yardbirds prior to joining the Bluesbreakers, being replaced by Jeff Beck. He then went on to join Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker to form Cream. If you don't believe me, read the liner notes of the above said album.

ED: We believe you and stand corrected.

Brian Lynch

Spokane, Wash.

"Geez!" My Seattle buddy's sarcasm oozed across a few hundred miles of telephone line. "Your local rag proved Spokane's a few years behind the rest of the state! This fertilizer story is... what?... maybe four years old? They're plugging one side of the story, and a hopelessly outdated one, at that!"

He was referring to The Inlander's "Fatal fertilizer?" (March 15, 2001) article, which he had faxed to me a few minutes earlier. As I scanned it, I grudgingly admitted the story was outdated and the reporting leaned to editorializing.

The Inlander would have done itself and its readers a service by avoiding a single-source story. That's where you interview only one person. It's usually toxic to a balanced story and good journalism.

The basic allegations made by The Inlander's source [Patty Martin, former mayor of Quincy, Wash.] were first raised in a Seattle newspaper in 1997. Virtually every allegation made and every question raised by The Inlander's source is outdated in the spring of 2001.

Take her allegation that when you buy fertilizer, "there is no disclosure on the toxic tag-alongs" that may be in the fertilizer. That was true in 1997. But today, Washington law requires every bag of fertilizer sold in the state to carry a label telling you where you can find a complete lab analysis of that fertilizer's trace elements. The information is publicly posted on the Washington State Department of Agriculture's Web site. Apparently the Internet isn't public enough for her disclosure expectations?

The story reports an Environmental Working Group (EWG) claim that millions of tons of toxic industrial waste have been dumped on American farmland. But a critical review of the EWG's list of "toxic wastes" shows they included materials like phosphoric acid.

Phosphoric acid is an ingredient in most cola drinks, as well as many jams and jellies, cake flours and the production of cottage cheese. Really toxic stuff, huh?

Since the outdated EWG report, a federal court has ruled phosphoric acid should not be called "toxic" because it does not fit any reasonable definition of toxic. But it's still in the EWG's dishonest tonnage figures.

The story's only interviewee claimed the industry is dumping material "to avoid being held to the high standards for safe disposal."

The EPA -- the very folks who get credit for holding the industry to those "high standards for safe disposal" -- also determined that recycling products like phosphoric acid as plant nutrients was beneficial for the environment and safe for humans.

EPA experts have noted so-called "tag-along" elements are often the same in virgin-material fertilizers as they are in recycled fertilizers. Far from being "fatal," the EPA determined these reclaimed fertilizers are safe examples of recycling resources that would otherwise sit uselessly in landfills.

Finally, a study by the Washington Department of Ecology, in the wake of the news stories several years ago, found dioxin and heavy metal levels were commonly lower in soils that had been fertilized and farmed for decades, when compared to undisturbed and urban soils. And Washington State Department of Agriculture's tests of foods raised in these soils found them to be well within federal safety standards. Clearly, these fertilizers are not a risk to the environment or human health.

If The Inlander had reported on the Ecology or WSDA tests, if you had talked with the EPA or WSU scientists who studied this issue back when it was news, or looked at risk-assessment studies done on this very issue, you could have reported a balanced story.

Pete Fretwell

Fretwell is a spokesperson for Far West

Agribusiness Association, whose membership

includes companies that sell fertilizer

Spokane, Wash.

I've been reading your paper now for some time and feel obligated to comment on a section in your 'I Saw You' section of the Personals. I feel like crying for this David guy who's been pleading to Keilani.

I don't know what happened, but it sounds like whatever he did, he truly is sorry. I look forward to reading the next installment of 'We Belong' every week.

It brings a sense of hope in this harsh world today, that there really is true love.

It really sounds like this guy has complete unconditional love for this girl, which is hard to find nowadays. I pray that Keilani gives him 'that last chance.' From what I get from the story, she won't regret it. There's nothing more important than true love. Embrace it, and you can achieve anything together.

Steve Parry

Spokane, Wash.

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