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Letters to the editor

- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 21, 2007

Biologics

The Biotechnology Industry Organization is actively involved in the dialogue about how best to create a pathway for the approval of follow-on biologics that emphasizes patient safety and incentives for continued biomedical innovation ("Drug makers consider biological market," Business, Tuesday). This discussion is too important to be misdirected by fiction masquerading as fact.

Our organization found that the study produced by Express Scripts referenced in the article, which projected savings in health-care costs purportedly created by a market for follow-on biologics, has been shown to be unscientific and unreliable. This study contains numerous flawed assumptions about critical factors, such as patent expirations and market penetration, which led to a dramatically inflated savings estimate.

A more recent report by Avalere Health predicted a savings to the federal government of $3.6 billion over the next decade from follow-on biologics — approximately 5 percent of the $71 billion savings overestimate presented by Express Scripts.

JAMES C. GREENWOOD

President and CEO

Biotechnology Industry Organization

Washington

Sexeducrats' selective tolerance

David Limbaugh's excellent column "Lesson in selective tolerance" (Commentary, Saturday) addresses a serious threat to free speech from the left and demonstrates the pervasive intolerance of radical homosexuals toward anyone who doesn't agree with their agenda. That threat is by no means unique to California. Look no further than Montgomery County public schools in our own back yard.

The newly approved eighth- and 10th-grade sex-ed curriculum is a textbook example of selective intolerance and suppression of free speech. Any negative attitudes about non-heterosexuals are labeled "homophobic," and negative comments are described as "harassment," "intolerance" or worse. Students' questions or comments that are considered to deviate from the pro-homosexual agenda of the curriculum are either not permitted or ignored.

Further, beyond the sex-ed curriculum's insistence on only its own biased approach, some teachers and officials have encouraged students to trash brochures mandated for school distribution by a U.S. federal court simply because the brochures point out that some homosexuals have been able to overcome their same-sex feelings.

By example, the school system is demonstrating gross intolerance toward those who do not share its view of homosexuality while somehow expecting students to appreciate and understand tolerance, acceptance and empathy even toward those with whom they may have a deep-seated, fundamental disagreement based on belief and experience.

MICHELLE TURNER

Vice president and spokesperson

Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum

Silver Spring

Trusting and verifying

Frank J. Gaffney Jr.'s "The genie-stuffers" (Commentary, Tuesday) is right that nuclear weaponry and strategic deterrence no longer receive the serious national deliberation they should. Mr. Gaffney's call for a national debate is doubly important because he is wrong about everything else.

There is no greater threat to our system of government and way of life than the expansion of the Hiroshima equation to one bomb equals one terrorist equals one city. If the late President Reagan could say to trust but verify when standing toe to toe with Soviet communists, why can't we say the same to our friends today when the political and technical possibilities to block threats to our cities are so much greater? We should be doing everything we can to extend and exploit this happy moment when only governments with cities to protect and diplomats to debate have nuclear weapons, or its passing may go hard by us.

If the future of the American experiment isn't reason enough, nuclear weapons are expensive and dangerous right here at home. The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Analysis estimates that U.S. taxpayers paid $54 billion for nuclear weapons programs this year. One hundred four thousand claims have been filed, and more than $2.6 billion has been paid for compensation for health consequences of nuclear weapons production to American workers. Yet we have taken the size and posture of the arsenal for granted for years.

With such Soviet dupes as Mr. Reagan and one-worlders as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on the record in favor of prudent and careful pursuit of a world free of nuclear weapons, name-calling is not enough ignoring the genie will not make it go away. We urgently need a national debate on the future of U.S. nuclear weapons policy worthy of the stakes.

DOUGLAS B. SHAW

Director of security programs

Physicians for Social Responsibility

Washington

Fire bugs on the border

Jerry Seper's article "Illegals light border fires to sidetrack U.S. agents," (Page 1, Tuesday) struck a chord. My documentary film about the border, "The Fence and the Fire," documents a human-caused fire that started last Memorial Day during Minutemen fence-building activities. Was this intentional or just another campfire? We may never know.

Statistics in my film reveal that nearly 60,000 national forest acres have burned down around us in the Hereford, Ariz., area alone in the past four years because of human-caused fires. Why doesn't the U.S. Forest Service or U.S. Border Patrol have enough investigators to find out who is burning our forests? How many arsonists have been prosecuted?

Forest Service officials that I contacted during my research stated that the Memorial Day fire started in Mexico, but local rangers fighting the fire provided its GPS location, which was inside the Coronado National Forest on the U.S. side close to our border.

Our forests are burning down around us, costing all taxpayers untold amounts.

Why don't our leaders care enough to stop this damage to our precious desert environment, if for nothing more than to keep our trees and wildlife safe for future generations?

This is a crime against nature as well as against border residents. It is totally unacceptable and outrageous. Thank you for getting this virtually hidden issue to readers.

MERCEDES MAHARIS

Hereford, Ariz.

Enhanced security

The Friday editorial "Immigration laws on the books" may be misleading to readers in the way it describes the United States' use of biometrics to enhance U.S. security.

To clarify, biometric entry procedures the collection of digital fingerprints and photographs are in place at all international airports and seaports and in the secondary inspection areas of all land border ports of entry. In fact, through the use of biometrics, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has processed more than 86 million travelers without increasing wait times and has denied entry to hundreds of criminals and immigration violators.

DHS' US-VISIT program provides this biometric screening capability, and it is enhancing our security while facilitating travel for the millions of legitimate travelers we welcome into the United States each year.

ROBERT MOCNY

Director

US VISIT

Department of Homeland Security

Washington