Today's Story Line

When is a soybean not a soybean? To many people in Britain, the answer is clear: When it's been genetically modified (GM). A raging debate in Britain over GM food - focused on soybeans - has created a global concern about the safety of designer food coming out of gene-splicing labs. Many food scientists are trying to calm public fears, which are strongest in Europe.

Ping-Pong warmed up US-China ties, and now Major League Baseball will bring Mexico and America closer. Quote of note: "We view Mexico as our home." San Diego Padres vice president Mike Dee.

Britain and Iran are taking innovative steps to curb rising drug problems.

South Africa's first big election since the post-apartheid one in 1994 may center on rising crime and basic needs.

- Clayton Jones World editor

FOLLOW-UP ON MONITOR STORIES *RAMBLERS' RIGHTS: A Jan. 11 Monitor story told of a growing legal dispute between rural landowners in the United Kingdom and people who stroll on those lands in a long-held tradition. On March 8, the Labour government promised legislation that would ensure a "right to roam" in about 10 percent of England and Wales. Local councils will mediate any disputes. "Glorious parts of our heritage are still the preserve of the few, not the delight of the many," stated Michael Meacher, environment minister. The move shocked landowners and farmers.

*LOOKING FOR A FEW GOOD EINSTEINS: The education system that helped create the economic dynamo called "Japan Inc." has recently received many black marks (see stories on Jan. 12, March 2 and 8). Now Japan is correcting one flaw - a shortage of creative scientists - by letting gifted students skip the last year of high school to enter a "fast track" program. The aim is to create an elite that will make scientific breakthroughs, reducing Japan's dependency on foreign patents.

Let us hear from you. Mail to: One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 via e-mail: world@csmonitor.com

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