- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 1, 2003

Fleeing France

I would like to applaud Arnold Beichman for his informative and enlightening Commentary column (“Iran’s new French connection,” June 25). As a French woman, I am saddened and outraged by what my government is doing in the name of the French people.

For a long time, we have been a nation proud of our progressive traditions of protecting the people who had been persecuted by their suppressive regimes. France was a safe haven for such victims.

Now, by the horrendous act of the French government against Iranian political refugees (in the little village of Auvers-sur-Oise), who had been heavily guarded by our gendarmerie and other security forces for many years, I am very puzzled. I sometimes think of abandoning my motherland, which used to be the cradle of human rights and civil liberties, and permanently settling in the United States as a French-dissident refugee.



KARINE CLAUDE

Paris

Cease-fire, Palestinians and living standards

Following Sunday’s cease-fire announcement by three major Palestinian factions, White House spokeswoman Ashley Snee commented that “parties have an obligation to dismantle terrorist infrastructure” (“Palestinian groups declare cease-fire,” World, Monday). The world community must realize that part of this process involves real efforts to improve the quality of life for ordinary Palestinians.

Militant organizations maintain their popularity not only by attacking Israeli targets, but more importantly by also conducting much-needed social welfare projects.

Buoyed by local religious leaders and wealthy foreign Arabs, these terrorist organizations often provide the necessities of life to a population decimated by years of conflict. A militant leader represents more than a fighter against Israeli occupation: He also symbolizes the ability to heal a sick child or to feed a hungry family.

That these same groups also carry out suicide attacks is incidental — mere survival comes first. Through these socioeconomic works, the militant groups are able to gain the political support of the people and add new members to their ranks.

During this cease-fire period, the Palestinian Authority should coordinate with Israel and the international community to improve the basic living standards of the Palestinian people. By delivering elementary services such as water, electricity and medicine, the Palestinian Authority can quickly become the legitimate champion of the Palestinian cause.

The result will be decreasing numbers of potential suicide bombers, increasing reluctance by the population to harbor militants in their midst and growing power for Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas to dismantle the terrorist organizations.

CHRISTOPHER J. DESBARRES

Research assistant

National Defense Council Foundation

Alexandria

Evangelicals and their clear vision of the Middle East

Fortunately, American evangelicals see the current Arab-Israeli conflict clearer than not only the current U.S. administration but also many peace-now types both in the United States and Israel (“U.S. evangelicals back West Bank settlements,” Page 1, Sunday).

Referring I am sure not to the West Bank but to Judea and Samaria, the heartland of the Bible and the historical and religious homeland of the Jews, they have taken a moral stand in favor of a Jewish state that will encompass what was spelled out in the Bible.

Whatever their reasons, they do not share the view apparently of our government that Arab terror should be rewarded by territorial concessions. Nor do they share the opinion that an Arab dictatorship with little tolerance for religious or human rights should be in charge of the holy places of Judaism.

NELSON MARANS

Silver Spring

The stench of genetically modified food

Your editorial (“Much ado about GM food,” Monday) cites a study by the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy (NCFAP) stating that genetically modified (GM) foods will be good for Europe, Africa and America. I disagree with your position.

NCFAP advertises itself as a nonprofit, nonadvocacy organization. It lists as additional funding sources commodity groups, agribusiness and chemical companies. The study you cite was funded by the Monsanto Co., Syngenta and the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

The study was based upon methodology used in the United States. NCFAP states that the results are preliminary and discussed the potential impact of GM crops.

This study should be put in proper context. It is sponsored by those who stand to gain the most from the expansion of GM crops. It is a preliminary study with no actual large-scale testing in Europe and talks about potential only. The NCFAP study does not address the downsides of GM foods.

Monsanto markets Roundup Ready seeds. Roundup is injected into the seed to kill common existing weeds as the crop grows. This is the same Roundup that we see on television that kills weeds. It is no wonder GM seed and food producers are against labeling food that has GM products.

Collateral effects are not addressed in this study. Drift occurs when wind or animals carry GM-modified pollen and/or seeds to non-GM farmers’ property. This contaminates the “clean” crop and reduces its value. Furthermore, if GM crops are found in non-GM farmers’ fields, they are subject to prosecution and have been prosecuted.

Superweeds have been created that are tolerant to GM crops. Farmers must buy additional fertilizer to kill these new weeds. Unintended deaths occur to friendly animals and insects that come in contact with GM crops.

Your editorial states that “the starvation argument is valid.” This point is incorrect. There is enough food to feed all the people of the world. Hunger is a factor of economics, politics and geography. African countries do not have the money to buy food to feed their people. The starving people of Africa and the world are not a hot political issue, so there is not any advantage gained from helping them. Much of Africa is not capable to sustaining agriculture.

President Bush is wrong to try to force an unproven product upon the people of Europe and the world. GM foods do not increase food’s dietary quality. They have not been sufficiently independently tested for long-term health benefits to determine the effects of the poisons associated with GM food. GM crops are shown to be predator crops that affect the quality of non-GM crops.

ART SKILLMAN

Germantown

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