Caution! Genetically engineered seeds ahead As your editorial pointed out, part of the push in genetic engineering is to create "terminator seeds" so that farmers have to keep going back to chemical companies and herbicide providers to get seeds for their next year's crop ("Ending a genetic food fight," Sept. 28).

But you seem to swallow agribusiness's argument that genetic engineering was embarked upon so that fewer pesticides would be used. Since when does a chemical company not want to sell its pesticides? Plus, about 70 percent of crop research relating to biotechnology is to engineer a crop for resistance to herbicides. In other words, virtually unlimited amounts of toxic herbicides could be sprayed on a field and the crop could still grow, but everything around it would die. In a few cases, super-weeds have emerged in such areas.

In the case of Bt corn, the pollen from this relatively benign biological pesticide is killing significant amounts of monarch butterflies. If not outright banning of this untested technology, certainly there needs to be a moratorium on wider planting of these varieties, and all biotech crops and ingredients certainly need to be labeled. Bruce Campbell, Los Angeles

Tribute to Sander Thoenes I am writing to you with regard to Sander Thoenes. Sander attended Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., with my husband, and we are devastated by the news of his tragic and untimely death.

Your coverage of Sander's death and the tributes you paid to him brought tears to our eyes. I wish to thank you for your respectful coverage that shed light on the truly amazing qualities in this brilliant young man, rather than sensationalizing it as others in the media did. As much as we are saddened by the loss, we are heartened by the fact that Sander touched so many lives around the world and that we are better for having known him. My husband and some other Hampshire alumni are seeking to establish a scholarship fund at Hampshire College in Sander's honor to award a student who symbolizes the ideals in which Sander believed. Elizabeth A. Rathbone, San Jose, Calif.

I am very sad to hear of the death of Sander Thoenes. As a former foreign correspondent in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Haiti, I know how important the presence of an independent press, committed to telling the truth, is to an oppressed people. They truly appreciate the efforts of those who sacrifice a comfortable existence in a wealthy country to accompany and chronicle the struggles of the poor. The press is one of their few hopes of obtaining justice and freedom. I am sure that Sander's death was not in vain, and that he has contributed in some way to the liberation of the people of East Timor. Mary Durran, Montreal, Quebec

Giuliani's just doing his job Regarding the letter, "Sensation censorship," Oct. 4: The writer expressed a very common view regarding Mayor Giuliani's stance concerning the controversial Brooklyn Museum exhibit. Ultimately, this view misses the crux of the issue. It is not about the First Amendment at all. If the museum were not funded by taxpayers, the mayor would have nothing to say about the issue. But, since public monies do go to the museum it is a perfectly legitimate to withdraw those funds in the public interest. Many New Yorkers could easily find such an exhibit repugnant to the values they wish to promote. This is not a matter of "circumventing the Constitution." It is using the mayor's office to establish public policy - which is what he was elected for! The mayor is just doing his job, unpopular though it is at times. Martin Wolff, New Milford, N.J.

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(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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