- The Washington Times - Friday, March 12, 2004

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:


On genetically modified crops

LONDON — There is, the environment secretary, Margaret Beckett, told Parliament yesterday, “no scientific case for a blanket ban on the use of genetic modification.” Even if that were true — and it is a contentious claim — the government and the pro-GM lobby have failed to win over the public in significant numbers, partly because the scientific evidence is mixed. Take, for example, the review of GM science commissioned by the government, published in July 2003. It stated, among other things, that “the absence of readily observable adverse effects does not mean that these can be completely ruled out” in the case of GM foods. Hardly a ringing endorsement, but then serious scientific research tends not to dissolve easily into simplistic sound bites.

Successive governments have too often relied upon the imprimatur of science to win support for controversial policy ends, or simply to avoid embarrassment. The examples of BSE and human variant-CJD are fresh in the collective memory. As a result, claiming unalloyed scientific support for the planting of GM crops is unlikely to be persuasive.

Khaleej Times

On nation-building in Haiti

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — It is a good thing that the United States and France have closed ranks to send peacekeepers to Haiti to halt its descent into anarchy. However, this should be treated as just the starting point for a nation-building project that should not end before the creation of strong, self-sustaining public institutions. Democracy cannot be imposed on Haiti merely because it is located a few miles off the coast of the United States of America. The country in its present form doesn’t even have the rudiments of a modern society on which a sophisticated political system like democracy can be built. Therefore, any democracy-building project has to necessarily start from scratch. Only when institutions like judiciary, legislature, police force and administrative service have been put in place and a modicum of security and civic services restored, can democracy become a feasible proposition for Haiti.


On the elections in Russia

COPENHAGEN — Central control of opinion instead of open debates about the future has been dominating the campaign or rather the absence of such [a campaign] ahead of the referendum for [Russian President Vladimir] Putin on Sunday.

The main peculiarity of the system is that it is a strengthening of the bureaucratic system and a weakening of the political parties in favor of the Kremlin club. The system must maintain the status quo that Mr. Putin has created where submission is the only way to influence. But such a system has limited potential for modernization.

Mr. Putin wants a modernization but the open election campaign seems to be against his nature, although he certainly would have won it. The mock election stands in sharp contrast to Mr. Putin’s wish to appear as a civilized European leader.

Helsingin Sanomat

On the elections in Greece

HELSINKI — The result of the Greek parliamentary elections left no room for any kind of afterplay. The right-wing New Democracy Party achieved a clear majority and ousted the left-wing PASOK that had long ruled the country.

The New Democracy’s jubilant victory celebrations on the streets of Athens were forced to be short-lived. Hard work lies ahead: Costas Caramanlis’ government won’t be given much time to organize and practice holding the reins of power.

The negotiations on uniting Cyprus are at a critical stage and both Greece and Turkey are expected to make an important effort in advancing them. In August, the Olympics, which are being held in Athens, are reportedly fearfully behind schedule. Behind all this lies Greece’s fairly problematic economy and continuously high unemployment.

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