A Two-Sided Coin: Feeding the Hungry and Preserving the Land

While I applaud the four-part series "Farming a Shrinking Planet," there are serious oversights in the perspective from which the articles were reported. In Part 1, "Can the Earth Feed Everyone?," Oct. 21, the question presumes that our current norms of eating must be maintained. Nutritional research and environmental awareness have lent great weight to the argument that we must change our food consumption patterns dramatically.

Regarding Part 2, "How Far Can Technology Boost Output?," Oct. 28: The emphasis is on new genetics and new varieties. Why not emphasize the value of intensive gardening and the role of policy in encouraging subsistence and sustaining farming rather than export production?

Regarding Part 3, "Will Trade Barriers Fall," Nov. 4: In looking at the global arena, examples are given of the counterproductive nature of agricultural subsidies. The underlying assumption is that the global marketplace is the best way to provide the world's food. The tragedy is that the cost of such production is hardly borne by consumers in the short term.

Regarding Part 4 "How Is Change Affecting Farmers?," Nov. 12: Where is the discussion about programs to link consumers directly with producers? Where is the discussion about the awareness among farmers that the land cannot continue to produce with agribusiness practices? The global economy will work only when farmers, the land, and consumers enter into a mutually enhancing relationship. Marilyn Welker, Columbus, Ohio The immigration issue

The article "Immigration Issues Land in Clinton's Lap," Nov. 18, points out our continuing problem of hordes of people from already-crowded countries trying to enter the United States regardless of quotas. In addition to seeking answers to our present dilemma, we should take a long-range view and give more help to fast-growing countries in their efforts to spread family planning.

The US devotes less than 3 percent of its total foreign aid appropriation to bringing down the birthrates of less-developed countries. In contrast, billions go to military aid and to developmental and infrastructural projects that will soon be overwhelmed with too many people. Let us hope that the new administration will resume our contributions to the United Nations Population Fund and the International Planned Parenthood Federation. No additional money is needed; just modified priorities. Keith C. Barrons, Bradenton, Fla.

The Opinion page article "US Refugee Policy Faulted," Nov. 12, is an excellent review of the issue. The author notes that our refugee policy has outlived its historical mission. The same could be said for our entire immigration policy.

The United States currently allows entrance of more immigrants each year than the rest of the world's nations combined allow into their countries. And this quota does not take into account refugees and family members of immigrants who enter the US each year.

Do the immigration-policy makers truly understand the long-term implications? Through natural increase and legal and illegal immigration, America is adding at least 3 million people to its population each year. Conservatively, in 50 years, there will be at least 400 million Americans.

If the US limited its total number of immigrants to the total number of people leaving the US each year, which is approximately 200,000 people, would not that be a wise policy in the long run? Responsible policymaking must be based on long-term not short-term benefits. G. B. Lloyd, Southwest Harbor, Maine

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