I was very glad to read the Opinion page article "Roots of Somalia's Crisis," Dec. 24, which emphasizes that the country's burgeoning population will double in less than 25 years and that it is a major factor in Somalia's current distress. Somalia should be seen as a warning sign for much of Africa. It will take more than armed forces to guarantee food delivery.
To tackle the problem, women in all developing countries must receive education and accessible birth-control services, plus help in establishing sustainable agriculture. Foreign aid must stress family planning, sustainable farming, and solar power rather than wood fuel.
Also, in the Opinion page article on the same issue, "An Agenda for the US and Latin America," Dec. 24, the authors did not once mention the deleterious effect of a rapidly expanding young population and the need for family planning. Before real democracy can take root, a stable population with job opportunities is necessary. This will happen only if population growth is halted and balanced with resources and jobs. Sarah G. Epstein, Washington `Multiculturalism'
The Opinion page column " `Multiculturalism' Versus the US Ideal," Jan. 15, illustrates the superficial analysis that has too often characterized discussion of a complex subject. The author presents the specter of a "multiculturalist movement," which, he implies, seeks ethnic separatism in place of a more inclusive American political identity. But multiculturalism is not simply a movement or a philosophy. It is a condition of our history and society.
When the author argues that Martin Luther King Jr. would have disagreed with multiculturalism, he is talking more about King the safe icon, not the man who was a strong opponent of the ways United States foreign policy was corrupting the American values he admired. The author treats multiculturalism as a kind of perverse desire to choose difference over unity. But Dr. King understood that African-Americans are not free to choose to be separate; their choices are partly shaped by the racism that is a dail y part of American life.
The author is right: Our racism is not unique, and our nationalism is more inclusive than many others. But until everyone is fully valued, we will not understand who we are as a nation. If the author is committed to the dreams of King, then multiculturalism is not his enemy. Marc Belanger, Amherst, Mass. Department of Political Science University of Massachusetts at Amherst Tomato genetics
Regarding the editorial "Hands Off the Tomatoes," Jan. 20: I am appalled by the Monitor's bias. The editorial gives legitimacy to Jeremy Rifkin's group without investigating the positive aspects of genetic engineering.
For example, the very qualities the editorial decries in the modern tomato - dry and tasteless - would be improved by the genetically altered tomato. The tomato would have a longer "shelf life," and it could be picked in a riper stage, having a more natural, vine-ripened flavor one desires. We have been genetically engineering plants and animals for centuries by selective breeding and other methods. These gene-transfer methods are a technological step, needing careful supervision, which will enable peopl e to enjoy a more abundant and healthier food supply. Doris D. Cruickshank, Dayton, Ore.