Today's Story Line

Walk into any food store in America that carries organically grown produce and you'll likely find some imported items. The world market in organic food has expanded along with concerns about preserving farmland and wildlife. Some consumers also distrust synthetic chemicals in food.

During the cold war, NATO was spring-loaded to protect West Europe. Now its role in stopping conflicts in the Balkans requires taking public opinion into account. And expanding NATO to former Soviet bloc states means trusting them with military secrets. One NATO member, Turkey, is demanding support for its crackdown on Kurdish rebels.

- Clayton Jones World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB * THE ORGANIC FUTURES MARKET: When Paris-based reporter Peter Ford last lived in Britain, 20 years ago, "organic food" meant blotchy apples, misshapen carrots, and indigestibly heavy bread sold in hippie-managed whole-food stores. "Back to nature" was the maxim. Today, delicious-looking organic foods are on British supermarket shelves and organic farmers see themselves as modernizers: "Forward to nature" might well be the new motto. John Cullimore, for example, keeps his organically raised ewes in three pens as the lambing season approaches - one for those expecting one lamb, another for those with twins, and a third for those expecting triplets. How can he tell the difference? "Echographic pregnancy scans," he explains. "We use all the modern technology; we just don't use chemicals."

FOLLOW-UP ON MONITOR STORIES * SENTENCE IN SOUTH AFRICA: A white farmer convicted in the fatal shooting of a black child last year (a Monitor story ran April 22) was given a five-year suspended sentence March 23, igniting protests. The farmer said he fired as a warning shot, striking the child accidentally.

* TICKLING THE IVORY MARKET: On April 7, the southwest African nation of Namibia will auction about 13 tons of ivory - with only Japanese bidders taking part. The sale will be the first one allowed under a temporary lifting of an international ban on ivory sales by the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (see Monitor story Dec. 12, 1998). After Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe will hold a ivory sales. All three nations want to reduce their burgeoning elephant herds. Environmentalists fear the nearly 60 tons in sales will reactivate demand for ivory and lead to more poaching in other African nations where herds are dwindling. Japan was the world's largest ivory buyer, much of it to make finger-size signature seals.

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