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Population Growth and Progress

After The Christian Science Monitor's first-rate reporting on the steps taken in Cairo toward realistic world population policies, I was disappointed to see the author of ``Cairo's Faulty Assumption,'' Sept. 23, ignoring the consequences of simple arithmetic in his essay arguing that population growth is not a problem.

The author is correct when he says that population growth has sometimes accompanied progress, but biologists would recognize that the causal relationship is that progress has generally allowed population growth. In fact, some of the relationships cited by the author are tautological: It should not be surprising that population growth has occurred along with increased infant survival, since increased infant survival causes an increase in population!

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Some of the ``facts'' cited by the author should give any reader cause to doubt his argument that population growth is a positive force, particularly the claim that since 1968, world population has increased 50 percent and ``food prices have fallen by the same proportion.'' Does anyone living in the US really believe that we pay half as much for food now as we did 25 years ago? Peter Waser Lafayette, Ind., Biology professor, Purdue University,

Population Growth and Progress

The primary cause of the high extinction rate of species is the expansion of humans with their technologies into the habitats of other species. Humans are driving species into extinction. But is that progress? The author is not stating a fact. He is telling us about his values: He does not value biodiversity or wild lands.

Even if the preservation of biodiversity is omitted from a definition of progress, the author's statement is inverted. Population growth has followed technological improvements (i.e. ``progress'' in health care, food production, etc.). Populations are growing most rapidly in countries where a large fraction of the people have never learned to read or write, and have never had a significant chance of inventing new technologies.

Even with the amazing improvements in technology (which have led to enormous increases in food production) an estimated 700 million people are malnourished. The number of hungry people could decline if population growth were slowed or stopped. Steven C. Hill Las Cruces, N.M.,

Population Growth and Progress A commitment to Haiti

In the article ``Haitians Seeking Asylum Wary of Forced Return,'' Sept. 27, a senior Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) lawyer in Washington opines that the ``genus'' of the claims of Haitians may be ``somewhat diluted.'' This casual observation ignores the law.

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In order for a change of government to defeat a valid asylum claim, the US would have to show by a ``preponderance of the evidence'' that conditions have ``changed to such an extent that the applicant no longer has a well-founded fear of being persecuted'' if he or she were to return. In Haiti, the governmental infrastructure that emerges from this US-led quasi-nation-building exercise is likely to be relatively weak for a considerable period of time. Certainly, given the recent devastation and repression, it will take a serious commitment by the international community and will likely be some time before a constitutional culture takes firm root in Haiti. It is far too early to dismiss the protection claims of Haitian refugees. Arthur C. Helton New York, Open Society Institute, Forced Migration Projects,

Population Growth and Progress Espy deserves forgiveness

If ever it would be in the best interest of the nation - and especially the agricultural department - to forgive, this would be the time, (``Espy's Downfall,'' Oct. 4). Mike Espy did not expect to be offered or given things that were against the law, and he tried to correct his mistakes in a speedy manner. It's sad that in these days when hundreds of thousands, even millions, are being spent to influence others, someone who is doing the best job in a long time has to leave his task unfinished over a mere $10,000.

Of one thing I am certain: Mr. Espy would never have let a ticket to a football game - or a million dollars - influence his decisions in the agriculture department. Mary M. Jones Yazoo City, Miss.,

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