Backtalk May/June 2009
One To Grow On
People will interpret "Spoiled" by Paul Roberts however they want. If they're technophiles, they'll see it as promoting biotech. If they're greenies, they'll see it as dis-/misinformation. I think it provides an excellent synopsis of the complexity of sound and just food policies and systems. What I take away is the need for pluralistic approaches to producing the world's food in an imperfect world. Perhaps it will be difficult to manage in densely populated cities in developing countries, but vertical and urban agriculture seem to be at the crest of the wave for a new and better future of food.
Highland Park, Illinois
As a no-till farmer myself, it's always interesting to ask people which method they would choose. Organic, with its high labor and fuel use, or soil-saving no-till and its chemical component? I don't know the right answer, but more people need to be educated on the problems associated with both.
Must we keep uncritically repeating the old chestnut about how an expansion of organic agriculture to a worldwide scale would lead to plowing the rainforests and turning vast numbers of us into lowly agricultural serfs? The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN recently endorsed a worldwide shift toward sustainable agriculture as a means to fight hunger and tackle climate change.
Biofuel for the Fire
Congratulations to Heather Rogers for her excellent article "Slash and Burn." These priceless forests are the culmination of life's evolution, and their rapid obliteration must be seen as a terrible crime. One would hope that the multitrillion-dollar bailout could be modified to allow for the financing of a true stimulus in which the diversity of Earth's life is protected.
Elmhurst, New York
The Baby Snatchers
Scott Carney's "Meet the Parents" highlights the abuses within the international adoption system. Even when malpractices are exposed in unethical adoptions, agencies are rarely severely sanctioned; at most their license to perform intercountry adoptions is rescinded and often eventually reinstated. Sadly, the Hague convention doesn't go far enough in remedying these abuses. In unethical adoptions, there are no winners, only profiteers.
usha rengachary smerdon
Vice president, Ethica
My youngest two children were also victims of child trafficking for adoption in Chennai. We located their Indian mother and told them the truth when they were 12 and 13. We had our first reunion with their other mother the next year. Our children are now nurtured by two families who love them, and we've built a strong bond. We've proven that it's possible to have a happy ending. I urge this boy's parents to reach out in love and trust. I'm confident that gesture will be returned in kind.
There has never been a more heartbreaking photo essay on the state of psychiatric institutions than Eugene Richards' "Out of Mind, Out of Sight." It will haunt me as long as I live. The only flaw: The story neglected to mention any ways we can help.
Editors' note: To get involved, visit Mental Disability Rights International at mdri.org.
For the Record
Stephanie Mencimer's "Wake Up and Smell the Fine Print" spotlighted the imbalance of power inherent in the franchisor/franchisee relationship. But I nearly choked when I saw the $35K court reporter topping the list of "Hard to Swallow" costs. Court reporters are hardworking professionals. I think that was a really cheap shot at the working stiff.
Deer Park, New York
Reading Kathryn Joyce's "The Purpose-Driven Wife" was like entering a time warp. That kind of thinking went by the boards 400 years ago with the Puritans. Queen Elizabeth (the first!) would have none of it. Such selective reading of the Old Testament has no place in 21st-century theology.
East Windsor, Conecticut
I am obsessive about my Mother Jones. It is sharp, relevant, and ahead of the curve. So imagine my horror when, reading the latest Editors' Note, I helplessly witnessed as two smart, fearless journalists put the word "whatev" into print. What's next? LOL? ROFL? OMG! Mother Jones is not Seventeen magazine! Using the Urban Dictionary as your style guide won't earn you the respect you so very much deserve.
San Jose, Costa Rica
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