Regarding Suzanne Nossel's March 17 Opinion piece "Spain's wake-up call to US - to lead, listen to global constituents": The actions of the electorate in Spain are indeed a wake-up call, but not for the US. It is in fact a wake-up call for terrorists, who have succeeded in affecting the outcome of an election, and changing the course of a nation's foreign policy. This is no small feat, and one that will not go unnoticed by other terrorists around the world. While Spain's action may be a rebuff of President Bush's foreign policy, it is more urgently an empowerment of the terrorists themselves.
While Ms. Nossel may feel that we need to ask permission prior to any US action anywhere in the world, this an impractical idea. Prior to last year's invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration spent many months building its case for the need to enforce UN resolutions and bring Saddam Hussein into compliance. It was clear early on that some countries were never going to agree, for many different reasons. Consensus is nice, but not at the price of inaction.
Regarding your March 16 article "Ninth grade: a school year to be reckoned with": The statistics were solid, but what happens to the students who drop out? I'm the one in four who didn't make it beyond eighth grade. Here's what happened to me: I ended up scoring in the higher percentile on standardized tests, spent more time with my parents, and discovered that learning could be fun. Now I'm 19. I may not have a high school diploma, but I'm well on my way to a bachelor's from a good university. Where were the dropouts like me in this story?
Your March 11 article "Are There Drugs in My Corn Flakes?" may have left readers with the false impression that they might find drugs in their cereal. The article failed to discuss the federal regulations protecting consumers from crops not intended for food use. Plants producing pharmaceutical proteins are grown in field trials under strict conditions set forth by federal and state governments. These requirements are science based and consider the type of plant, the protein being expressed, the location of the intended production area, and crop handling practices.
Farm equipment used for these types of plants cannot be used for any food or feed crops. Since these protein-producing plants never cross paths with crops used for food and feed production, there is no chance "drugs" will appear in our cornflakes.
Michael J. Phillips
WashingtonThe writer is vice president for food and agriculture, science, and regulatory policy at the Biotechnology Industry Organization.
Regarding your March 15 article "As town meeting dies, an old civic culture fades, too": While some such meetings may be going away, in other places the meetings are anything but dull. I recently received a wonderful civics lesson while working to support a new library in my small town. Library supporters put our shoulders to the wheel in whatever way we could. At the town meeting, we showed up in force. Opponents also spoke. The session was passionate but respectful. And just a few months ago, we had the groundbreaking for the library. So, while there may be times when town meetings are dull, there's nothing like joining with your fellow citizens and working together for the collective good.
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