Letters to the Editor – Weekly Issue of November 15, 2010
Readers write in about issues of food safety, Britain's budget cuts, and help for Pakistan's landless poor.
Food safety – the real issues
The Oct. 25 cover story on food safety ("How safe is our global menu?") featured fresh fruits and vegetables – not an accurate depiction of the American diet. In fact, The Centers for Disease Control recently released a study showing few of us eat enough fruits and vegetables, and I am left wondering whether this is the real danger in our diets.
The safest food is grown locally. But small farmers need our support. Instead, agribusinesses are buying up huge plots of arable land around the world, further harming food quality and small farmers. If the government didn't subsidize agribusiness, those crops wouldn't pay.
"How safe is our global menu?" makes a destructive assumption – that the growth in international food distribution is unavoidable, even acceptable. Our current food supply is unsustainable and inhumane. It forces artificially low prices, pollutes the environment, and is largely oil dependent. The government bureaucracy and the megafarming industry that aim to regulate this, merely amplify the problem.
On Britain's budget cuts
The Nov. 1 editorial "Doing as the British do" praises their defense-budget cuts. What won't be dropped, however, are new aircraft carriers, under construction in Scotland at a cost of £5 billion [more than $8 billion]. Yet orders for Harrier jets that use such carriers have been canceled. So Britain will have new aircraft carriers, but no jets to fly from them.
The US must do better in overcoming the vested interest of the arms industry. Otherwise, US defense cuts result in an equally absurd and ineffective strategy.
John Hughes's Oct. 25 commentary, "Can Obama match Britain's guts on budget cuts?" seems inappropriately titled. Fiscal probity here actually requires more intestinal fortitude from members of Congress.
How would Congress react to proposals to eliminate subsidies for agriculture and oil, get rid of earmarks, cut the military budget, and get the loopholes out of our tax code? Their imagined response clearly demonstrates that the heart of the problem is not with Obama's "guts," but the "guts" of Congress.
Help for Pakistani poor is key
The US Congress should take a cue from Roy Prosterman's Nov. 1 commentary, "Want global security? Give land to Pakistan's poor." People able to support their families are more likely to form a stable society, and that is very much in our interests.