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

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be publihsed, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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