My dad was right

In response to the letter to the editor, “Grandparents’ GOP” on Dec. 27: I could have written this same letter about my parents. My dad, a World War II veteran and proud American, kept up on current events through his subscription to the BDN, reading books and televised news outlets until the end. Unfortunately, his body gave out on him and he was literally on his deathbed on Election Day 2016.

While watching the voter coverage, he expressed to me his concern: he hoped and prayed that for once the public would have the common sense to not vote Republican. He said it would be a disaster for our country. The next day, he was shaking his head and just couldn’t believe Donald Trump would be the next president of the United States. He said one good thing was that he wouldn’t be alive to see it. He was right on all counts: he died Dec. 22, 2016.

Joyce Woodard


Seaweed and cow feed caution

The Dec. 30 Associated Press article in the BDN about harvesting seaweed for cow feed raises worrisome issues, because, like trees in a forest, the “macro”-algae being proposed for harvesting (species of Fucus and Ascophyllum) are a huge ecosystem in which many other species of plants and animals live, many of which are ecologically important.

Harvesting macro-algae is like clear-cutting a forest or dredging the bottom of a bay. The result: Few living things remain. As with controlling microbial flora of human guts, there are other ways to control methane-producing bacterial species in cow guts other than by harvesting the entire macro-algal ecosystem of a productive ocean.

For example, see the October 2019 review by Doyle et al. titled “Use of Lactic Acid Bacteria to Reduce Methane Production in Ruminants, a Critical Review.” This work demonstrates that one approach uses lactic acid bacteria (LAB). LABs, natural inhabitants of intestinal tracts of mammals (and important groups of microorganisms used in food fermentations) can be readily isolated from cattle and are currently used on farm as direct-fed microbials and as silo inoculants. Although LABs could be used to reduce methane production in ruminant livestock, so far research on this has been limited. The Doyle review evaluates the current literature and provides an analysis and summary of the potential use and mechanisms of LABs as a methane-mitigation strategy, showing promising results, with more research needed.

Cutting methane production in cow (and human patient) intestines is a biopharmaceutical research opportunity with major potential financial rewards, less potentially-damaging to Maine marine ecosystems.

Gary W. Conrad

Retired professor of biology

Bar Harbor

Let’s be consistent in calls for disclosure

Election Day is still 10 months away, yet Mainers are already being bombarded with ads taking aim at Sen. Susan Collins. While our state is destined to be a top campaign target, we should at least demand transparency from outside groups seeking to influence Maine voters.

Based on his recent letter to the BDN, it appears Robert Nelson shares my support for stronger disclosure requirements; however, by listing the backers of 1820 PAC — a group whose donors are already named and easily accessible on the Federal Election Commission’s website — he is pursuing the wrong target.

Nelson would have performed a far greater public service if he could solve the mystery of the funding source(s) of Maine Momentum, a dark-money group that has spent four times as much on ads as 1820 PAC has.

In contrast to 1820 PAC, Maine Momentum’s intentions and finances are opaque.

Maine Momentum exploits a loophole in campaign finance law by classifying itself as a 501(c)(4) “social welfare organization,” making it exempt from donor disclosure requirements. The group’s founding leaders — former spokesmen for Chellie Pingree and Sara Gideon — declined to reveal their contributors.

Although 501(c)(4)s are prohibited from taking a stance on specific candidates, that hasn’t stopped Maine Momentum from producing universally anti-Collins ads, including one ubiquitous commercial that was awarded three Pinocchios by The Washington Post’s fact checker, an ignominious distinction reserved for claims that are “mostly false.”

Mainers deserve to know who is behind the ads blanketing our airwaves. Let’s be consistent when demanding greater disclosure.

Therese Plourde