Saturday Mailbox


November 11, 2006

Globalization isn't a terrible menace

The Sun's editorial "On the table" (Nov. 6) correctly notes that China's "booming economy" has lifted 43 million people in that country out of hunger.

This boom, of course, is driven by China's move toward free markets and its integration into the global economy.

But in the same edition, Cynthia Tucker calls globalization "a force more insidious" than terrorism ("Lack of economic security is no less a threat than terrorism," Opinion Commentary, Nov. 6).

Does she really believe what she writes?

Does she really believe that peaceful commerce with people in other countries is more insidious than the murder and maiming of innocent people?

Does she really believe that foreigners who offer to sell televisions and textiles to us are more insidious than those who take our lives and destroy our property?

Donald J. Boudreaux

Fairfax, Va.

The writer is chairman of the economics department at George Mason University.

Fighting hunger on many fronts

Thank you for an excellent editorial on the huge problem of hunger ("On the table," Nov. 6).

As The Sun pointed out, economic development is an absolutely essential part of the answer to banishing world hunger. So is reducing developed world crop subsidies.

Direct food aid is essential in dealing with famines, but routine aid to handle agricultural surpluses is destructive to agriculture in the developing world.

A cow in Europe is subsidized about $2.20 per day, which is more than twice the amount on which hundreds of millions of people in the world struggle to survive.

For any problem as massive as reducing world hunger, there must be multiple solutions, and one of them is agricultural development.

The Sun's editorial cited China and its economic boom.

However, in the early 1980s, before the economic boom was well under way, Chinese agriculture was transformed because a courageous minister of agriculture, He Kang, persuaded the Communist government to abandon low-producing collective farms in favor of long-term land rentals and a market economy in agriculture.

Of course, they do not call it capitalism. But the plan succeeded enormously because it returned farmers to a system of individual incentives.

That was the major factor in increasing their agricultural productivity.

And as The Sun noted, the Grameen Bank, the system of microcredit founded by Muhammad Yunus and for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, is indeed an engine of economic development.

Much of the capital goes into agricultural development, as borrowers often invest in chickens, water buffalo or a simple pump for irrigation.

In addition to economic and agricultural development, we need a wider range of advances in locally appropriate technologies, reduction of post-harvest crop losses and more productive food crops.

It is on this broad front that the effort to banish world hunger must be pressed forward.

R. L. Hall


The writer is a former member of the organizing committee for the World Food Prize.

Fish farming poses threat to marine life

As The Sun's article "Fish stocks fare better in bay than sea" (Nov. 3) suggests, with careful management, depleted fisheries can recover.

Unfortunately, instead of moving toward ecosystem-based fisheries management, Congress is considering bills that would authorize industrial-sized fish farms off our coasts along with privatized fisheries.

Such a reliance on offshore fish farming to meet consumer demand could further deplete wild fish populations.

Most offshore fish-farm proposals would raise fish such as snapper or cod, which eat wild fish. Every pound of farmed fish produced requires at least three pounds of wild fish to be caught and ground up as feed.

Fish farming also often relies on heavy doses of antibiotics, chemicals, hormones and fish feeds that contain known carcinogens.

And farmed fish could compete with and spread disease to wild populations.

Congress should reject provisions in pending energy legislation that could authorize fish farms anchored to decommissioned offshore oilrigs.

Congress should also reject single-species management schemes and privatization of our ocean fisheries when it considers reauthorizing the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

Wenonah Hauter


The writer is executive director of Food and Water Watch.

Ferries can preserve character of Shore

I applaud Martin O'Malley for his willingness to consider high-speed ferries as a new way to cross the bay rather than building a new Bay Bridge, which I believe would alter the rural character of the Eastern Shore and contribute to sprawl ("Transportation, growth on the line," Nov. 3).

I've crossed San Francisco's Bay on high-speed passenger ferries with commuters from outlying communities such as Larkspur and Tiburon.

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