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The United States Has Global Biodiversity Programs

The July 17 opinion-page article, "US Should Take a Stand on Biodiversity," by representatives from Conservation International painted a very misleading picture of United States global biodiversity programs.

In a report to Congress last month, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) detailed the nearly $300 million the US has committed over the past two years to help conserve tropical forests and biological diversity. Hardly the "token amounts" quipped by the Conservation International spokesmen.

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USAID has 125 biodiversity programs in more than 60 countries. These programs include conserving tropical forests in Central America, protecting African elephants, protecting coastal ecosystems, and a $10 million program with the World Wildlife Fund to swap debt for nature in the Philippines - the largest such swap to date in Asia. Meanwhile, US spending on tropical forest conservation is at record levels.

The US justifiably refused to sign the "Biodiversity Convention" at the Earth Summit in Rio. The fine print of the treaty would mean that American scientists and firms would not be able to have their hard-earned patents protected from foreign corporations. In protecting biodiversity, private sector partners should not be treated as the enemy. They need a fair playing field on which to participate.

The battle to save the world's precious environment needs all of our support, but pronouncements such as those made in the July 17 article can sometimes be just as dangerous to the cause as bulldozers. Richard E. Bissell, Washington Mankind vs. humankind

For years I have been benefiting from reading the Monitor and I very much appreciate your efforts at writing fair, well-informed news. I write now with a sincere deeply felt request. Please begin using "humans," "humanity," and "humankind" instead of "man" and "mankind," unless you are referring to a specific male. Twenty or 30 years ago, "mankind" and the generic use of "man" may have been appropriate. But today, use of the more accurate and appropriate terms could do a lot toward gently raising people' s consciousness. C. Stratton, Wayne City, Ill. Ode to equestrians

The excellent article, "Jumping Onto the Olympic Team," July 10, about our United States Equestrian Team's Olympic riders and horses was greatly appreciated by this long time Monitor reader and equestrian enthusiast.

This is an exciting sport which unfortunately is being targeted for removal from the Olympic games in the future by those who do not appreciate the genuine athletic prowess of the riders. True, they do not compete "alone" but then neither do athletes who team up with other humans or those who use a device such as a boat or sled to compete in their chosen sport.

I do not know what the situation is in the rest of the world, but those of use who want to see our equestrian team on television in the United States will not be able to. The networks carrying the Olympics this year have decided to totally eliminate coverage of equestrian events!

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In spite of this boycott, our team will be there representing the United States and will, as usual, give their very best. I thank the Monitor for recognizing them. Judy Reinsma, Saugus, Calif.

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